Onset of an action-packed cricketing season with WTC Final, India tour of England alternating each other and later the year World T20 Championship has yet again invoked a large scale debate about whether to legalize sports betting industry in India or not? A larger prospect suggests that gambling is pronounced as a punishable and illegal offence in major parts of the country. However, when focus shifts to online betting, the onus of its legality is still dubious and always pictured as the grey area with several loopholes.
None of the specific readings either in the ‘The Public Gambling Act of 1867’ or the ‘Information Technology Act, 2000’ prohibits Indian natives from placing legitimate bets online if the betting enablers service is extended by offshore located or parenting company. Although, strict prohibition is enlisted for online betting operators rendering their gambling services within the geographical boundary of India. Operators located outside are only allowed to enlist their services in India if a definite route of payment gateway accepts localized bets in Indian Rupees (INR).
Localized punters with any sort of interest in offshore betting websites are advised to go through Topbets-Indian audience oriented ‘How To Bet Online’ guide which enlighten new comers with the viewed risks on betting websites and how to tackle it. However, even if Indians are free to capitalize these entertaining services, the Indian government is still losing a lot of monetary benefits.
Government’s take on this debate
Few months back Anurag Thakur, the present Minister of State for Finance, sensationalized the whole debate by acknowledging the supportive voices for regulating online sports betting in India. He even called-out that if all decisions were in his influence then, he would not waste even a single minute to regulate betting on sports in India. He supported his view with the claim that legalized sports betting will boost India’s economy as well as the decision will be beneficial to curb match-fixing incidents.
Taking a totally reversed call, the newly appointed head of BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit has decided to never vote in favor of sports betting legalization. Shabir Hussein Shekhdam Khandwawala after taking control of the office said that being a police officer previously, I can bluntly admit that betting will surely lead to more instances of match fixing and the government is right on its part to not legalize it so far.
What is India Missing Out On?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is viewed as the most powerful and affluent cricket body in the whole world. The sole entity to facilitate all cricket matches played in India and the most popular franchise based T20 cricket league popularly called as IPL. Annual income report published in 2019 suggested that BCCI secures income around 500 million USD on a year-on-year basis.
Without any doubt, BCCI brings a large share of revenue and prestige to the country but when it comes to arithmetic, the Indian cricket agency is capable to do much better. Doha’s International Centre for Sports Security made a case study recently and claimed that people would love to spend around 200 million USD on every single ODI fixture in which Indian team participates.
Talking about underground or illegal betting in the country, the report further estimated that yielding of profits in India’s grey-sector sports betting is surging with 45 billion USD each year. Not only this, the average expansion of underground betting each year amounts to 7 percent and a big chunk of this is committed by cricket betting. If sports betting gets a legalized tag in India, it is supposed that all these underground malicious practices will be regulated better and every time IPL season is on, the government will be witnessing millions of tax revenues.
A survey conducted in March 2020 revealed that around 40 per cent of Indian internet users would love to accept gamble and allied service once the legalized tag is finalized. This data should be sufficient for government agencies to analyze people’s love for the entertaining yet reward-oriented gambling sector.
India needs to fall in-line with countries like the United States which have recently allowed regulated betting service in the country to accelerate economic expansion. Examples of the U.K should also be considered to know how a country in short while established itself as the biggest worldwide gambling industry. The crux of all debate is that there are already several precedents and a definite ‘will’ to succeed will surely offer India wings to fly higher.