Legalise sports betting in India, says Delhi court

Cricinfo staff

September 1, 2010

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Spectators display a banner referring to the betting scandal involving Mark Waugh and Shane Warne, third Test, Australia v England, Adelaide, 11 December 1998
Betting on cricket is illegal in India Graham Chadwick / © Getty Images
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Betting in cricket and other sports should be legalised in India, a Delhi court has said, pointing out that the police have failed to curb illegal betting in the country. Legalising betting, the court said, would help the government keep track of the transfer of funds and even use the revenue generated for public welfare.

"It does not need divine eyes to see that 'satta' in cricket and other games is reaching an alarming situation. The extent of money that it generated is diverted to clandestine and sinister objectives like drug trafficking and terrorist activities," said additional sessions judge Dharmesh Sharma, of a Delhi trial court. "It is high time that our legislature seriously considers legalising the entire system of betting online or otherwise so that enough revenues can be generated to fund various infrastructural requirements for the common man and thus check the lucrative business in organised crime."

The judge cited a media report that claimed more than Rs. 20,000 crores (approximately US$4.27 billion) were pumped in by illegal betting syndicates during the IPL last year.

"A little surfing on the internet would reveal that in Delhi alone there would be operating as many as 2,000-3,000 bookies at any given point of time when cricket matches or even other matches are played all over the world. This could not be done under the very nose of police without their knowledge," the judge said.

The court was also critical of the police for its laxity in trying to keep a check on the illegal business. "The half-hearted and lackadaisical approach of the police in nabbing the perpetrators of this organised crime on satta business leaves an irresistible impression that police is not only ill-equipped to deal with such cases but probably they have higher stake in continuance of the same under their patronage."

The court made its remarks while allowing an appeal by two people held guilty by a lower court for betting under the Delhi Police Gambling Act. It said there was not enough evidence to convict the two, who were prosecuted for organising betting on the 2007 World Cup match between Australia and South Africa.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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