Legalized Betting In India Must Be Considered To Stamp Out Match-Fixing

By Dhanu Delphi on September 18, 2019

Cricket is the most popular game in India and is also the number one sport that match-fixers have targeted for the last twenty years. The BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) confirmed earlier this week that it is now investigating two attempts at cricket match-fixing.

The first attempt was when two fixers approached a member of the women’s cricket team in Bangalore. They tried to get her to play according to their script and fix ODI home series games against England. The second attempt involves multiple approaches of cricket match-fixing during the Tamil Nadu Premier League T20 competition. That tourney involved 8 franchises that had a number of players who play for India.

These two incidents were reported to the BCCI and the ACU, who launched their own investigations into the matters. While the ACU works to weed out all forms of corruption in the sport of cricket, ACU head Ajit Singh Shekhawat believes that India needs to come up with a better strategy to tackle the problem of match-fixing in all sports. Shekhawat has put forward two key suggestions he hopes will play a big role in curbing fixing.

Proposal 1: Make Laws That Are Clear

The current laws in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not state that match-fixing is a crime. There is no clear legal framework on how to address the issue and the fixed punishments that can be meted out. Shekhawat believes the first thing the government needs to do to tackle the problem is to amend this law and make match-fixing an illegal offense.

The Law Commission of India proposed something similar in 2018 and called for match-fixing to be criminalized – just like in Australia and England. Shekhawat says that when this is done, it will give the authorities a clear path on how they should go about dealing with individuals involved in any form of fixing.

If and when the IPC is changed to make match-fixing a criminal offense, it will also send a strong message to cricketers as well as other sportsmen and sportswomen in the country that there are serious consequences involved when stepping over the line. So far, there has been no push from the government to amend the IPC with regards to fixing.

Proposal 2: Consider Legalization Of Sports Betting

Shekhawat says a better way to eliminate match-fixing from Indian sport is to legalize sports betting across the country. He did stress fact that he is not one hundred percent pushing for legalized betting in India. However, he believes the government must discuss the pros and cons of having a legalized betting industry.

The pros outweigh the cons as far as Shekhawat is concerned. A legalized betting industry would significantly reduce illegal betting in India. It would also bring in huge revenues for the government in the form of betting taxes. A legalized betting industry with robust regulations will give the authorities more control over betting operators. They will be able to keep tabs on betting stats to see if there are any irregularities in games or player performances.

ACU Taking On A Bigger Role

 Shekhawat is the former Director-General of the Rajasthan Police. He assumed the role of ACU head in 2018. Shekhawat has made a number of changes giving the ACU more responsibility. Apart from increasing the number of staff, the ACU has also taken over the ACU department of state leagues. They are also focusing on conducting anti-corruption classes to educate players on how to deal when approached by fixers.