The Lodha Committee, a Supreme Court-appointed panel in India has recommended that it would be a good idea to legalize sports betting in an effort to stop the massive corruption that is taking place in sports, especially cricket.
The Indian Premier League (IPL), one of the richest domestic leagues in the world of sport has been rocked with match fixing and spot fixing scandals. The Lodha Committee has spent a lot of time investigating match fixing in Indian cricket and believes that sports betting could certainly eliminate a huge portion of illegal betting in India.
On the 4th of Jan, the report was submitted to the Supreme Court after a year-long study and contains a wide range of recommendations covering cricket administration, structure of cricketing bodies and implementing new policies towards improving transparency and functioning within the game.
Given the background of the probe, the report has devoted a complete chapter to address the issue of match-fixing and sports betting in the game. The committee distinguishes between the two, saying that while match-fixing interferes with the integrity of the game, sports betting is a general activity undertaken by many in different spheres.
The panel suggests legalizing sports betting in India and using robust regulations to monitor the industry. The report suggestions that legalizing sports betting in India will not only help to reduce the possibility of corruption within cricket but would also generate significant revenue for the Indian economy. The report details four safeguards, namely setting up regulatory watchdogs to monitor betting houses and betting transactions, disclosure of income and assets by players and administrators, licenses for those engaging in betting and finally strict penal action for violators of the law. It also reaffirms the existing ban on betting by players, administrators and all related officials.
The Lodha report calls match and spot-fixing as “neither pardonable nor a matter for regulation” and states that “the only way to deal with it is by making it a criminal offence punishable by law.” The panel has recommended that a dedicated special investigation wing be set up within the police as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was “ill-prepared” to conduct any investigation on its own.
The report also made major recommendations on cricket governance such as separating the governing bodies for Indian Premier League and the BCCI. While there is no doubt that Indian would generate a huge amount of revenue if it legalized sports betting, gambling laws in the country leave it up to each state to decide on legalizing sports betting.