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20 Nov 2020

MoS for Finance Suggests Legalising Betting to Tackle “Unholy and Corrupt” Practices

MoS for Finance Suggests Legalising Betting to Tackle “Unholy and Corrupt” Practices

On Thursday the Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur (picured), suggested that legalising betting will help end "unholy and corrupt" practices like match-fixing, as well as contribute to tax revenues.

His remarks, made at an ICICI Securities event, were in response to a suggestion by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister's (EACPM) part-time member and mutual fund industry veteran Nilesh Shah, who pitched for legalising betting in the country.

Shah said there is a "natural instinct" among Indians to gamble. He said: "My suggestion will be to legalise betting and gambling activities, which are underground. They continue to exist in our society."

Thakur, previously closely involved with cricket administration, pointed to countries like Australia and England as examples of where sports betting is legal, where match-fixing doesn't appear to be widespread, and if found is clamped down on firmly. Irregular betting patterns are one of the key ways to spot match-fixing.

Thousands of crores of revenue comes to the exchequer through betting taxes, which can be spent on the development of sports or other parts of the economy, Thakur added.

"If we look at the problem of match-fixing, then the trends in betting can give us leads on whether something unholy is happening or not. Betting can become a potent tool to stop fixing", he said.

This marks an interesting change in tone from a senior government minister in a country where, despite illegal betting being incredibly popular, a majority of Indians, state governments and political figures remain opposed to legalising betting.

Some state governments like Andhra Pradesh have gone further, bringing in laws to counter the rise in online betting and gaming.

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