Sports betting enthusiasts in India will be pleased to know that the government is taking steps towards legalizing sports betting in the land of 1.3 billion people. The Sports Ministry has stated over the weekend that legislators have begun discussions over the possibility of lifting the sports betting ban in the country and establishing regulations that will allow Indians to place bets on various sports.
India Is A $150 Billion Underground Market
Sports betting operators from all over the world will be paying close attention to the Indian market as gaming analysts estimate that the illegal sports betting market in India is currently at $150 billion and is expected to grow bigger with every passing year. The government has tried in the past to crackdown and curtail the growth of this illegal sports betting industry but the efforts so far have yielded little results.
Injeti Srinivas, the secretary for sports is currently in England and is apparently discussing the possibility of legalizing sports betting in India and framing regulations that are pretty similar to what the United Kingdom has adopted. The UK has legalized sports betting and the lottery which generates a significant amount of revenue for the government in the form of gaming taxes.
Sports betting is banned throughout India but there are a few exceptions like Nagaland which has passed a new gaming law in 2016 to legalize sports betting. However Nagaland is one of the smaller states in India and the gaming market is extremely small. The Indian government is looking at ways to bring in more revenue to the country and use the same to develop more sports in India.
India Looking At UK Sports Betting Laws
In a statement, the Sports Ministry said “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. 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.”
Cricket is the biggest sport in India by far and is considered a religion in India because of the massive fan following. Cricket will undoubtedly draw the biggest wagers should India legalize sports betting but other sports like hockey, tennis, football and kabaddi could also flourish as the government is expected to use the money generated from the sports betting industry to improve and grow these other sports. There are rumors that the government could legalize sports betting in the next couple of years.
However there is sure to be opposition towards the move to legalize sports betting in India as there are a number of ramifications that must be discussed and addressed before the ban can be lifted. We take a look at some of the most obvious concerns:
Match Fixing: Cricket in India has already been tarnished by match-fixing and spot-fixing scandals over the last decade and there is sure to be more concerns should sports betting be legalized. Gaming regulators will have to develop a watchdog that will police not just cricket but all sports in the country to ensure that they are not being influenced by outside parties with betting ties.
Problem Gambling: If India decides to legalize sports betting, it is highly likely that the number of problem gamblers will increase very quickly because sports betting can be addictive. Gaming regulators will have to make provision to identify problem gamblers and then provide them with the necessary support to help them with their recovery.
Cultural & Religious Ties: There are a number of legislators who are against the legalization of sports betting and Vijay Goel, the Sports Minister has gone on record to state that he is not in favor of sports betting but would follow the advice of the government.
Many legislators have strong cultural and religious beliefs which go against sports betting as they believe it is not good for society and will destroy both cultural and family values in the country.  However the All Indian Gaming Federation (AIGF) has launched a campaign to educate Indians on the benefits of legalizing sports betting in India and are looking to work with regulators to develop a robust framework for sports betting in India.

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