In a paper submitted to the Sports Ministry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has called for legalising and regulating sports betting in India. The ban, it said, had failed to work, as a result of which approximately Rs. 300,000 crore in black money was being used for betting in the country every year.

“Despite several attempts to ban it, betting is continuing although in an underground way and substantial resources have been invested into enforcing such a ban. Thus middle way out is it should be regulated in a way which reduces this to an acceptable level. Hence, the government should think of legalising and regulating betting,” the paper said. Ficci sports committee chairman Sanjiv Paul told The Hindu that for quite some time the organisation was pushing for legalising betting in a regulated manner. “The current problem being faced is very different from betting. The country is faced with fixing arising [out] of betting. Betting is not desirable just as gambling and smoking is not desirable. But banning it has not paid off and the issue keeps on cropping up time and again for last many almost two decades,” he said.

According to Mr. Paul, the time had come to allow regulated betting that would entail use of white money rather than black money. A study by auditing firm KPMG revealed that betting to the tune of Rs. 300,000 crore takes place annually in India. If this is made legal, then the government would earn a revenue of Rs. 12,000 to 19,000 crore per annum and eliminate the play of black money also. “The way forward to contain this menace is to legalise and regulate it in a particular manner. The proposal is with the Sports Ministry and is now being vetted by the Law and Justice Ministry.”

The greatest advantage of regulating sports betting, according to the Ficci report, is going to be accountability for large amounts of money transferred through illegal channels and reduction in cases of match-fixing, money laundering and crimes. “If gaming and betting is regulated in India, it will benefit the exchequer and could potentially fund sports development, social protection or welfare schemes and infrastructure development plans,” it said.

Ficci has highlighted how a blanket ban on sports betting is impossible to be sustained without proper regulation. It has also pointed out how different countries had benefited by legalising betting.

“A system which seeks simply to prohibit rather than control gambling is turning its back on the problem. Ban cannot be implemented but sports betting can be controlled with proper regulation to prevent further deterioration of conduct of sports in country,” the report added.

Ficci said it has realised the negative aspect of sports betting on society. The question now is how to tax the money involved in gambling. We need to devise a system which encourages betting operators to function openly.

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