On Saturday a ministry official hinted that the Sports Ministry might make betting legal in India starting new rumours and discussions. He revealed that the informal talks have already begun with various stakeholders in the government, according to a report by The Indian Express. As per the report, he Sports Ministry is likely to seek assistance from UK where gambling is legal but it may take over two years before the final draft is prepared. “The UK has one of the most effective gambling laws. We hope to understand their system and see if it is possible to introduce it in India,” said a ministry official while hinting that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which online sports betting will be one of the key points can be signed by Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas who is currently in England.
However, Sports Minister Vijay Goel gave a clearer picture of this development by saying that no such proposal has been made by the ministry yet. While speaking to news agency ANI Goel said that he is completely against betting but the final decision will be taken by the government. “No such proposal, I am against betting but final decision rests with Govt,” he told the agency when asked whether online betting could be legalised in the country.
According to Doha-based International Centre for Sports Security, the illegal betting market in India is worth $150 billion, or roughly Rs 9.6 lakh crore. Even though most of this business is done through local bookmakers and unregulated offshore websites, the ministry believes making it legal could be a major boost for the economy.
“The UK has overcome this (poor funding) through lottery and online betting. The department is preparing an MoU with the UK and the aspect of betting will be included therein in order to understand the mechanism and evolve a view on the possibility of its introduction in India,” the ministry said in its presentation. A Sports Ministry official said the government was conscious of the social ramifications of such a move. “However, it can be beneficial to the economy as well as sports overall. We are looking at the best international practices in sports integrity and ethics framework,” the official said.