Legalising and controlling gambling is the safest thing for India to do, according to Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and former President of the Board of Crick Control, speaking at the November 19 ICICI Securities gathering.
The way to get match fixing in cricket under control, from his point of view, is to allow legal wagering on the sport. This will allow “monitoring people allegedly involved in fixing,” he said, and will stop “unholy and corrupt” activities and generate new tax revenue.
Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company’s Managing Director, Nilesh Shah, agreed wholeheartedly. “If we look at the problem of match-fixing, then the trends in betting can give us leads on whether something unholy is happening or not. Betting can become a potent tool to stop fixing,” Shah said.
“My suggestion will be to legalise betting and gambling activities, which are underground. They continue to exist in our society,” he added.
With as much as $60 billion worth of action and $48 billion aimed at Indian cricket alone, unlicensed gambling is happening regardless. Thakur noted that tax revenue from sports wagering has become a major source of revenue for the government in countries like the United Kingdom, and India should take advantage of the same, thus making wagering safer for Indians.
That has not been the policy of Indian courts or legislatures until now. Recently, the Madras high court asked the government of Tamil Nadu to determine once and for all whether online gambling would be permitted, while simultaneously urging celebrities and sports stars to avoid attracting people into the practise. Meanwhile as authorities have sought to clamp down on Diwali gambling activities, hundreds of arrests have been made over the past week.
In the face of the Madras high court, Thakur’s support of gambling flies and helps to give Indian authorities a great excuse to reverse course, if they were ever contemplating an online gambling ban. A former cricket star himself, and now a member of parliament, could help pave the way for safer alternatives for gambling and less corrupt options for betting.