The Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) of the BCCI has recently submitted a confidential report to the board, raising concerns about domestic T20 Leagues, highlighting betting of a sum of around Rs. 225 crore on a single small state level league match in India on the international betting website Betfair.
ACU, in its concern over betting on domestic T20 Leagues like TNPL, has even asked BCCI to consider shutting down such leagues.
The said report revealed to the board that a Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) T20 match this year between Tuti Patriots and Madurai Panthers saw betting of a whopping sum of Rs. 225 crore (approximately 24 million pounds) on betting exchange website Betfair, which incidentally geo-blocked access from Indian IP addresses earlier this year.
The report also states how Betfair, after receiving betting of such unusually high amount on a state-level Indian league, stopped taking any bets on matches involving the TNPL franchise Tuti Patriots.
As per an official of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA), the co-owners of Tuti Patriots were expelled on the advice of TNCA’s internal enquiry committee, as reported by The Indian Express.
ACU is also probing a case where a Mumbai Player raised a red fald over being approached by a team owner for spot-fixing in the T20 Mumbai League.
These incidents highlight the adverse entailments of the huge illegal and unbridled sports betting industry in India, which according to some estimates is worth more than $100 billion a year. In the past, questions have been raised and bills have been introduced in the Lok Sabha regarding the regulation of sports betting in the country.
Last year in July, the Law Commission of India submitted a Report titled ‘Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India’ to the government, recommending making match fixing and sporting fraud criminal offences with stringent penalties. On a progressive note, the panel also suggested that an effective ban cannot be put on betting and gambling, then the parliament or state legislatures should consider legalising it with a strict regulatory framework and guidelines.
Based on these recommendations by the Law Commission, in December 2018, Congress MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill titled ‘Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018’ in the Lok Sabha to regulate sports betting and penalise match fixing. This bill aimed at preventing and penalising sports fraud in domestic and international events and overseeing and permitting online sports gaming through an effective regulatory and licensing framework.
So far, the cabinet’s response on this subject has unanimously noted that “Betting and Gambling” are State subjects and that individual state governments are free to take a decision on this matter.
A few months back, in an interview to Deccan Herald, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju said that, ‘We have always had a major crackdown on gambling. Whenever we are aware of it, we don’t allow it. But I agree that some cases remain off the hook. The ministry will have to consult different States before taking a call on this. The scenarios are different in different States.’
In the Lok Sabha, a few months back, when asked whether the government intends to ban online betting websites, Union Minister for Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad stated that “Betting and Gambling” are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. States/UTs are primarily responsible for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes related to betting and gambling through their law enforcement machinery.