ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Legalising Betting in Sports

Some Refl ections on Lawmaking

The debates on legalising betting in sports against the backdrop of the Indian Premier League scandal evoke two broader questions regarding our law and policymaking, and the way we respond to scandals such as these. First, what moral authority does the state have to ban conduct such as betting? Second, should ineffi cacy of law be a valid ground to repeal or change the law?

A draft of this article fi rst appeared in two parts on the blog “Polity in India”

The recent betting and match fixing scandal of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has brought shame to the country and the sport. It has also compelled the lawmakers to re-examine their laws and policies to check such practices. One of the solutions being offered is to legalise betting in sports in India.1 It is believed that the ban on betting is impossible to be fully implemented and the legalisation will help regulate betting, instead of driving it underground, allow regulated betting to act as a potential source of funds, and help reduce instances of match-fixing and spot-fixing.

Even while this IPL scandal has exposed intricate links between fixing and betting, the latter is being proposed as a solution to the former. There is a difference between fixing and betting. I do not think anyone would support legalised or regulated fixing. Fixing is deplorable; it turns a match to a scripted episode, denies honest players a chance to win (or lose) a game on their effort (or the lack of it), and undermines the faith the fans repose in the game and the players. However, legalisation of betting in sports is being seen as one of the solutions to mitigate the practice of fixing.

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