Recent weeks have seen a barrage of news reports surrounding India’s Twenty20 cricket tournament. Unfortunately, most of the news is negative, talking about crooked players, unscrupulous organizers, and fixed matches. The primary source of this information is a recent income tax investigation into individuals involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) who live “opulent lifestyle despite having no apparent source of income”.
These allegations have led to the suspension of IPL chief Lalit Modi during the weekend, just hours after the final event of this year’s Twenty20 cricket tournament. According to a report published by the I-T tax organization, “Modi is apparently deeply embroiled in both generation of black money, money laundering, betting in cricket (match fixing of certain IPL matches).”
The relationship between cricket and internet betting in India is now being scrutinized. Online gambling in India does not enjoy the legal freedom it does in other parts of the world, and some experts believe this is partially to blame for the corruption in the nation’s cricket league.
Barun Mitra, head of India’s Liberty Institute, says of online sports betting: “It should have been legalised long ago. Banning it has created this problem”. Online sports betting in the country is very common place, and popular events like the Twenty20 tournament provide incredible stakes. Many believe that decriminalizing online sportsbooks in India would work to dissolve the underground sports betting industry, and would help to reduce the sports corruption that is now plaguing the country.
Indian gambling laws were first introduced about 150 years ago, and this Public Gambling Act has not changed much since then. The rules are outdated and need to be refreshed to match the current state of gambling. A clear and consistent gambling policy could well be the weapon that brings an end to sports corruption and match fixing in India.