by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Why betting should be legalized in India

This Thursday seems to be a day for the bloopers – we’ve had black Mondays and Fridays – maybe it is time for blooper Thursdays.  The 1st blooper is on the last page of Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, headlined 'Legalising betting won't solve betting problems'.

Based on the headline, one would assume that the thrust of the article must be a clear incisive essay on why even legalized betting in India / sub-continent will not hamper the match-fixings / spot-fixings in Cricket.  But to my reading it seems more like shooting chaff in an attempt to neutralise moves to legalise betting in Cricket / Sports in India.

To take the article apart:
  • 'No amount of legality will stop a pliable player from turning crook'.  By this logic since burglary laws haven’t actually stopped burglaries, we have to scrap the law?  A really foolish argument against legalisation.
  • 'Most gambling in Indian sub-continent revolves on trust, (no written records) legalising will not work'.  Knock, knock, another idiotic assumption; the legalisation is *not* to stop betting, but to *bring* it out – make it open.
  • 'Cricketers should make their phone records available on request'.  This in a country, where these so called cricketing ‘heroes’, have refused the WADA ‘whereabouts’ clause!  A clause with which Federer and Nadal or Alonso and Hamilton do not have any objection to, is being objected to by the likes of eat-drink-get-fat-Yuvraj Singh & chucker-Harbhajan Singh. 
  • What exactly is this argument supposed to solve?
Here is why such legalisation *will* actually be of some good:
  • The illegal cricket/sports betting racket in India is estimated to be as high as $2 bn (Rs. 9000 crores), totally controlled by Organised Crime and the money is driven into the black market economy.
  • No Government in India (Union or States) earn any tax revenue out of it. Even taxing at a flat 25% would fetch about Rs. 2000 crores and bring the other Rs. 7 to 8000 crores into the ‘open’ economy.
  • The Organised Crime in India is reportedly controlled by the ‘D-Company’, or at the very least, it is the major player.  And D-Company has been accused of everything from drug trafficking, hawala to terrorism.  Thus legalising betting in Cricket / Sports would at one go cut off the major source of funding to Organised Crime and D-Company.
  • There will also be a direct effect on the match fixing.  It is this huge amount of money which enables the bookies and OC gang members to offer money, peddle influence and fix the matches.  If the money is not there in the 1st place (that is when people don’t bet with them), what motive will they have to fix? 
  • Yes, at first, they might turn punters and bet with their own huge ill gotten wealth and because of which might try to ‘influence’ players – but once the players themselves understand that ‘betting’ is above board, this tactic will not work.
That said, can the illegal manipulation of matches in Cricket and Sports actually be eradicated?  I have my doubts, because a player or a group of players can at anytime get together to manipulate the results.  But as above, you can’t remove Sections 448 and 451 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (India), just because they have not totally eliminated Burglaries.


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