Indian Premier League (IPL) has taken a jibe of SPOT fixing in its latest season of 2013 just before the finish of trophy. Fixing in cricket is not fresh scandal unearthed by the Delhi and Mumbai police, even before also former captain of India cricket team was found to be guilty. But bigger question is why did Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), did not take the action after the scandal surfaced in 2000, they sat on it for so long that It has became so nasty now that not only players but even the team managers seems to be involved in it. Again police seems to be doing the job to spot the players who seems to be involved in the business of fixing and their links to Bollywood and underworld. If police is willing and government allows they will soon hit a hornet’s nest, which can lead to big fishes and sharks who are actually controlling this billion dollars business. But the basic question need to be asked whether putting a better laws to curb betting business will help anyone or it will be a cover up until a fresh scandal hit the media and chorus starts again to ban the game itself. Indian media and society just wanted to show their back to nasty business of spot fixing, as if it is something which was not done before and after scandal it is not happening, which is totally untrue because of the nature of business, where money is involved in billions of dollars. We need to face this issue upfront that demanding more laws to curb the spot fixing will not help, as bookies and their masters will find a better solution to use the same system to generate the profit. Better solution will be to regulate the betting and legalize betting so that bookies can come in open and revenue, which is generated can come to government. Government and their ministers have to understand that basic instinct of human nature cannot be curbed by more and strict laws but by regulating it, which is done in the case of liquor, which once was treated as immoral and ban was put on it. But soon the government realized that it will not help and regularized it start a revenue stream from it, same need to done for cricket too.
Ban ever solved an issue?
Fixing in cricket is not new to anyone except some people who deliberately wanted to ignore the issue and have some vested interest in it. When the news of fixing in Indian Premier League (IPL-6) broke out in the media, it became as if something new was discovered and voice started getting together to ban IPL. Politician in India wanted to ban IPL on the basis that it has lot of corruption and no transparency as how money is funded and utilized in this gaming format. By the same logic after holding a position in democracy, politician tend to become corrupt, so why not ban election? Open secret that If Bollywood has connection with the underworld and black money is used in some of the movies, so why not ban Bollywood too. Again we can use the same logic to ban anything rather than finding the solution at hand, people in socialist India found banning something, an amusing instrument at hand, when they find something distasteful or against their belief or faith. Even though Ban on anything has never worked as in the case of books on which Griswold said “Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.” So to stop the corruption, transparency and legalized regulation should be called for rescue rather than just banning IPL.
Supreme court on betting
The laws in India do not define clearly what can be constituted as “Skill” , when a game is gambling(chance) or when it is totally dependent on the skill of players. But based on the ruling of Supreme Court given in case Dr. KR Lakshmanan V. State of Tamil Naduwhere betting on horse racing said that horse racing is a game of skill and added that “We have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that horse racing is a sport which primarily depends on the special ability acquired by training, It is the speed and stamina of the horse, acquired by training, which matters. Jockeys are experts in the art of riding. Between two equally fast horses, a better trained jockey can touch the winning-post”. So, betting on horse racing doesn’t come under gambling or winning something on mere basis of chance. Again in other judgment from Supreme court in case M.J. Sivani and Ors. V. State of Karnataka said that ““the game of Rummy is not a game entirely of chance like the ‘three-card’ game. The three-card game which goes under different names such a ‘flush’, ‘brag’ etc. is a game of pure chance. Rummy on the other hand, requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorized and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards. It is mainly and preponderantly a game of skill. The chance in Rummy is of the same character as the chance in a deal at a game of bridge“. Hence it can be concluded that the game whether it is cricket or rummy or any other, will not be considered as gambling where skill is involved, unlike throwing the dice on table, which is totally dependent upon chance. Hence cricket can be treated as a game of skill where outcome is dependent on the performance of two teams and better team comes out as winner. So in the light of current scenarios legalizing betting from legislation point of view will not be a issue and regulation can be made to make sport like cricket clean. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has already asked government to regulate the betting in sports like cricket, which will bring revenue to the government in $3.5 billion dollars a year, which is currently funneled into black market; operated through the illegal mafia and underworld.
Online betting in India
According to the current law in India, even betting online can be curbed under the same law and can prosecute the guilty. But even though it is illegal, internet betting find its route and websites rather than specifically declaring that betting cannot be done with real money on their website but they will help in getting in touch with international bookmakers. The online betting will always find its way out as it will be really tough to monitor, which websites takes money from the user and when the server for hosting the website is sitting beyond the jurisdictions; the prosecution will become hard. Even if we take the point to view that we can monitor the websites and put a ban on those sites, they can easily change the web address and resume the functioning as before. The infrastructure and man power needed to perform that activity will be huge; and impossible to block web addresses as it is very easy to resume the functioning online by performing minimum changes for websites operating outside India or server hosting betting website sitting outside India. Looking at the scenario for online betting also, it can be concluded that legalizing the betting is only solution so that it can benefit the sport as well as revenue, which can be used to build better infrastructures and sport facilities in the country,
Regulation will stop illegal betting?
The answer to the above question will be a big “NO”, it will not stop the illegal betting but it will stop the bookies to work underground and they will come in open. In the current scenarios bookies are the ones who through spot fixing or even match fixing knows the result before hand and cheat the common person who even though have a knowledge of game, cannot come out as a winner; because here his skill to understand the game is seriously haunted by someone who already knew the output. Hence cheating by the bookies will be ubiquitous. When they will be open and ready to take the bets from anyone, people can decide which betting house they can trust and bet their money on. Once the competition between the bookies will start the industry will get matured; genuine betting houses will sustain and crooked ones will be driven out of market as it happens in any business. Best part will be that current monopoly of betting which is handled by the Underworld, will get enormously reduced and will be helpful even for the players who sometimes gets threats to fix the outcome of the game.
Morality of Basic Instinct
Religion in any society has given a yardstick to people to follow their code of conduct, however bad the solution may be, but as it is sacred so argument cannot be done against it in open forum especially in India, where freedom of speech is not free and limited to chosen few only. Consuming liquor too is immoral and government tried to impose the ban on the natural instinct of people to curb it, but failed miserably in vain as it is impossible to apply it on behavior. A person should have a choice to spend his/her money in whichever and whatever way he/she wishes too; no government however tough may be the influence of religion may be, should not even try to put a ban on basic instinct on human behavior. The lesson from liquor can be taken forward and people as well as government needs to understand that in the long run it won’t help and need to regularized as it is in the case of liquor. Like consuming liquor will create problem in some families and can produce some undesirable effect, in betting too, it can be disastrous to some, if they do not understand the risk undertaken. This risk and pleasure is the driving force behind either consuming alcohol or putting money behind something on which your knowledge and understanding of game. Putting both in perspective we can see that basic instinct of human behavior to take risk and indulge in pleasure cannot be taken out, so people who wanted to take risk should be allowed, if stopped through ban they be driven to black market to satisfy their desire. So rather than curb the instinct we can regulate it as in the case of liquor and even horse racing as said above is legal, so why not legalize betting here as it is game of enormous skill and training too.
Rather than turning IPL into disaster and politician in India goes ahead to ban it, state government can take action to legalize and regularize betting. It will bring revenue steam from underworld to government. Government can regularize betting and let the police look into the task of murder and rape rather than running around cricketers. Here point remains that government which is already neck deep corruption, will they have guts to legalize IPL when election is due next year. To understand the economics of betting, people need to understand that legalizing will not stop illegal betting but it will make genuine guys to open betting houses and will allow normal person satisfy his/her desire to earn money and take risk with their own money.
Finally it boils down to government making laws to stop betting or government to regulate the money and remove underworld from maintaining monopoly.