20 Mar

Legalising sports betting would improve the integrity of cricket in India according to an Indian gaming lawyer. Ranjana Adhikari, Co-Head of Media Entertainment and Gaming Practice at Nishith Desai Associates, told Gambling Insider in India that the positives of legalisation outweigh the negatives. Sports betting, apart from horseracing, legitimised by the Supreme Court in 1996, is illegal in India. Yet the estimated size of the betting black market was worth US$130bn in 2018, according to statistics from KPMG. The decision to legalise racing was based on it being a game of skill, but Ranjana Adhikari  said: "I can apply the same logic to betting on cricket or any other sport. The biggest positive to legalising sports betting would be recognising that there’s already a black market out there so if you legalise it, you bring in revenue to the exchequer. There’s money that can be brought in through taxation, both in the form of gaming and corporate tax. There will be a proper tracking system, in terms of seeing the source of funds, which will help. It would also be a very positive step to protecting the player.”

In terms of negatives, Adhikari mentions India has a perception problem with sports betting, which has been linked to match-fixing. The biggest example of match-fixing in India was the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket scandal of 2013, where three Indian cricketers, including ICC World Cup winner Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, were arrested and banned from the sport, accused of fixing matches. "What needs to happen has to be very thought-out and the criteria set out has to be conducive enough for the offering of the business in a very legitimate fashion."

Brian Sturgess


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