Make Betting Legal? cricket bodies duck Law panel query

Written by Devendra Pandey
| Mumbai |
Updated: October 3, 2017 2:30 am

Only Saurashtra has answered to July letter: ‘will encourage match-fixing, anti-social elements’.

AT LEAST one association has warned against it, an official representing another supports it “on a personal basis”, and a third administrator does not “see anything incorrect with it”.

But most state cricket associations have chosen silence as their response to a letter from the Law Commission of India two months ago, seeking their views on a recommendation from the Justice R M Lodha Committee to legalise betting and gambling. Some associations are plotting to hold meetings to discuss the issue.

In a letter dated July 31, Sanjay Singh, member secretary, Law Commission of India, wrote to the BCCI and state associations that the Supreme Court has mandated the Commission to study the possibility of legalising betting in India.

“The recommendation made by the Commission that betting should be legalised by law involves the enactment of a law, which is a matter that may be examined by the Law Commission and the Government for such action as it may consider necessary in the facts and circumstances of the case,” the letter reads.

Seeking an early response to its query, the letter states, “May I add here that keeping in view the intertwining nature of betting and gambling, the Commission has chose to consider examination of both, the betting and gambling. I would, therefore, request you to forward the views of your association on the matter to the Commission at the earliest, as we want to submit our report in line with the directions of the Supreme Court, at an early date.”

But, the Saurashtra Cricket Association is the only state body to have answered to the letter, expressing reservations at the proposal. In his answer, SCA honorary joint secretary Madhukar Worah wrote that such a go would have an adverse societal impact and hit the sport’s credibility.

“It is our belief, as also our deep concern, that legalisation of betting will, both directly and indirectly, enhance and encourage the vice and the tendency of gambling in rather unrestricted manner,” Worah wrote.

“The temptation to earn simple money through betting will be very much detrimental to economically weaker as also illiterate sections of the society. Besides, this will also indirectly encourage the menace of match-fixing and other undesirable anti-social elements,” he answered.

DDCA administrator Justice Vikramajit Sen confirmed that the association had received the letter but not answered yet. “I don’t see anything incorrect with it (legalising betting). I reckon it will make the whole game much cleaner. That is my personal opinion,” Justice Sen said.

An office-bearer of another state association said legalising betting and gambling would help in curbing “all underhand dealings” and add to government revenue.

“Speaking on a personal basis, I feel this would be a fantastic thing, because all underhanded dealings — betting, gambling etc., — will completely go. It will also directly contribute to the central exchequer. Organisations like Ladbrokes will set up their offices here. And as everything will be official and registered, in case of spot-fixing, they can immediately find out the persons involved,” the official said.

“Maybe, in a country like India, betting regulations need to be stricter compared to the UK, for example,” the official said.

But, some state associations, including Mumbai, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Tripura, claimed that they had not received any letter from the Law Commission. The Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association secretary Iqbal Shah said the letter had been sent in the name of its former president. “In this case, the association will not answer to the Law Commission,” Shah said.

Officials from the Hyderabad and Baroda associations said they would not answer to the letter. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra are set to have meetings soon to discuss the matter.

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