Match fixing is a problem guilty of 'interfering with the integrity of the game'
India’s Supreme Court has ordered significant reforms inside the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The proposed reforms include a recommendation to legalise sports betting so that it could be better regulated.
Under the new reforms, suggested by the Justice RM Lohda panel, sports betting would be allowed but there would be severe restrictions. It would be an offence under BCCI and IPL rules for members of the industry to take part in betting.
“So also the recommendation made by the Committee that betting should be legalised by law, involves the enactment of a law which is a matter that may be examined by Law Commission and Government for such action as it may consider necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case,” it said.
The move has been welcomed by industry veterans who have lamented the ‘menace’ of match fixing and betting. The panel noted that there is an important distinction between match fixing and betting:
Match fixing is a problem guilty of ‘interfering with the integrity of the game’. Sports betting was referred to as a ‘general malaise indulged by different sections of the society’.
Sports betting has fallen under a bit of a legal grey area in India, as each province has its own rulings on gambling.
Horse racing has had a legal ruling from the Supreme Court, who consider it a game of skill that requires knowledge to judge potential outcomes.
General sports betting, however, has been left in a limbo state. It has been criminalised by most states, except Goa and Sikkim.
Many argue that legalising betting would have an overall positive impact on sports. Reducing the impact of organised crime and allowing governmental bodies to better educate young cricket fans and players about the ethics of the game.
The state could also benefit from a new tax revenue stream from the industry by legalising betting.
The push for large scale reform in Cricket could have a knock on effect on other sports. By regulating an industry that will continue with or without the state’s blessing, India could stem corruption in sports.