Indian Minister of Finance Pushes for Legal Sports Betting

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The safest thing for India to do about gambling is to legalize and regulate it. That’s the message from Minister of State for Finance and former president of the Board of Crick Control Anurag Thakur, speaking at an ICICI Securities event on November 19.

From his point of view, the way to get match fixing in cricket under control is to allow legal wagering on the sport. That will allow for “monitoring people allegedly involved in fixing,” he said, and stop “unholy and corrupt” practices, as well as generate new tax revenue.

Nilesh Shah, managing director of Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company, 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.

Unlicensed gambling is happening regardless, with as much as $60 billion worth of action and $48 billion being directed at Indian cricket alone. Thakur noted that in countries like the U.K., tax revenue from sports wagering has become a major source of revenue for the government, and India should be taking advantage just the same, while making wagering safer for Indians.

Up to now, that hasn’t been the approach of Indian courts or legislatures. The Madras high court recently asked the Tamil Nadu government to decide once and for all if they’ll allow online gambling, while simultaneously warning celebrities and sports stars to stop drawing people into the activity. Meanwhile, hundreds of arrests have been made over the past week, as authorities have attempted to crack down on Diwali gambling activity.

Thakur’s endorsement of gambling flies in the face of the Madras high court, and helps give Indian authorities a great reason to reverse course, if they were indeed considering an online gambling ban. A former cricket star himself, and now a member of parliament, he could help clear a path for safer gambling options, and less corrupt betting options.

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