Minister of Finance Anurag Thakur Calls For Legalized Betting
The United States resisted the move to legalize sports betting for many years due to a federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. However, the Supreme Court repealed this law in May 2018, and since then more than 40 states in America have legalized sports betting.
India has taken a similar stance towards sports betting, which is banned throughout the country. However, there has been a slow push to getting sports betting legalized. This campaign got a major boost after the minister of state (MoS) for finance Anurag Thakur openly called for India to legalize sports betting.
Give Indians A Chance To Bet Legally
Anurag Thakur is the former president of the BCCI and someone very aware of how much cricket has suffered due to match-fixing both in India and overseas. He supported Nilesh Shah’s recommendation to legalize sports betting. Shah is a part-time consultant of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister’s (EACPM).
Thakur said that Indians had an instinct towards gambling and sports betting. Since there was no legalized betting industry in the country, they were forced to look at illegal betting activities. The MoS finance said that one could not deny that illegal betting activities flourished in India and had to be addressed.
Thakur’s solution is to legalize gambling across India and flush out illegal betting operators. He believes a legalized betting market will provide Indian bettors with licensed sportsbooks and prevent them from being exploited by unscrupulous betting operators.
A legalized betting market in India will end the evil of match fixing and bring in significant revenue for the government in the form of betting taxes. It would also create employment opportunities throughout the country.
India Can Learn From Australia and the UK
Thakur said that India should look at how well Australia and the UK have managed their legalized sports betting markets and ensured that bettors do not spend their money at illegal betting sites. He said that match-fixing is definitely not as rampant and threatening in Australia and the UK like it is in India, and this was mainly because these two countries have regulated betting markets.
When you have legalized betting markets, betting analysts can keep a close watch on these betting sites and immediately report any suspicious betting activities, which will alert the authorities. This method will work well to flush out any match-fixing attempts. Thakur also pointed out that the significant amount of betting taxes that come in can be used to develop India’s sports and help the overall economy.
Expect Religious Opposition
The game of cricket in India has been devastated by match-fixing during the last decade. This is why Thakur’s proposition makes a lot of sense, as there appear to be a lot more pros to legalizing betting in India than keeping it illegal and having punters bet illegally at underground sites.
It appears that it is inevitable that India, which has a market of over 1.3 billion people, will eventually legalize sports betting. Whether India will legalize sports betting alone or sports betting and online gambling remains to be seen. It looks like MOS Thakur is only pushing for sports betting legalization as of now.
However, don’t expect India to move forward with sports betting legalization anytime soon as many hurdles need to be addressed. One of the biggest hurdles towards sports betting legalization in India is religious opposition. Religious groups in India believe that betting, which is a form of gambling, is evil to society and will create many gambling addicts.
The ruling BJP government has close ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu organization with a big say in what BJP elected officials do in India. However, suppose the BJP is able to convince the RSS that the financial rewards are worth breaching religious protocol. In that case, sports betting legalization in India will go through at a faster rate.