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Sports: Make betting legal, says top Indian body

26 may 2013, 12:27
0
©AFP
©AFP
A top Indian industry body has called for legalising sports betting amid a spot-fixing scandal in which cricketers were allegedly paid tens of thousands of dollars by bookmakers in underhand deals, AFP reports.

In a proposal submitted to the Indian sports ministry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said illegal betting to the tune of nearly $54 billion was taking place annually in the country.

"India is continuing to lose billions of dollars in taxable revenue through black marketing operations in sports betting... The way forward to contain this menace is to legalise and regulate it," FICCI said in a statement on Friday.

Betting is illegal in India and most of the cricket-playing nations of South Asia but backstreet bookmakers abound, accepting bets for everything from the outcome of matches to the runs scored each over and extras.

Indian police recently arrested Test paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two teammates Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila from the Rajasthan Royals, accusing them of deliberately bowling badly in the Indian Premier League.

Sreesanth, who has played 27 Tests and 53 one-dayers for India, is alleged to have been paid four million rupees ($72,000) to give away around 14 runs in an over while playing against the Kings XI Punjab on May 9.

His teammates are said to have agreed to similar deals with bookies in two other IPL matches.

Police have also arrested a Bollywood actor and scores of bookmakers, believed to be acting under orders from crime syndicates based in the Gulf.

FICCI said that despite several attempts by the government to ban betting, it was continuing unabated through illegal channels, and highlighted how different countries had benefitted from legalising betting.

"A system which seeks simply to prohibit rather than control gambling is turning its back on the problem," said FICCI, a non-profit organisation headquartered in New Delhi.

"The question now is how to tax the money involved in gambling and... to devise a system which encourages betting operators to function openly."

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