Why India should legalise betting

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/c/cricgen3.jpg' class='caption'> Unlike in India where betting is illegal, in England its is legal and any strange betting patterns can quite easily be spotted.

Updated: September 20, 2010 17:19 IST
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The spot-fixing controversy involving the three Pakistani cricketers has once again highlighted the dangers of illegal betting and how the betting syndicate in the sub-continent often uses money from the underworld to corrupt cricket. Compare this with the system in England where betting is legal and any strange betting patterns can quite easily be spotted.

Unlike in India where betting is illegal and has therefore encouraged crime and corruption in sport, in England it's been legal for decades. You can bet using your phone, over the Internet or simply walk into a betting shop

For example William Hill betting store in Central London is just one of 8,000 across the UK where gambling has been legal for decades with the most popular attractions being horse and greyhound racing and football with cricket forming only about five per cent of all bets placed.

And it's not just sport that you can place your bets on. You can even bet on TV shows and even weird stuff like will Wayne Rooney's marriage last till Christmas!

But even with betting being one of the most active industries in cricket-playing countries like England, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, there are rarely ever incidents of corruption.

"Everything is scrutinised. As a risk operator example, if we see a bit more money, even 1.5 per cent more in a market than we expect, all the screens go red and we immediately try to work out why that is. If someone's trying to change the results because it's legal we can immediately see if something's dodgy," said Rupert Adams, Public Relations Executive at William Hill.

Contrast this with India or Pakistan where bookmakers operate underground with billions riding on one match alone with money from underworld gangs like the D-gang.

"If there is one big lesson out of this, if we could get together with all of the other regulators and find a framewrok to regulate the bookies, it might be a different scenario then," Haroon Lorgat, ICC CEO said.

"The problem with illegal betting is that you can place bets that you couldn't do with legal betting since it's largely about win and lose. In the UK if someone walked into a store and asked to place a bet on a no ball first of all they couldn't do that and even if we allowed it the maximum they could make it a 100 or 1000 pounds," Rupert Adams said.

What remains to be seen is whether the authorities in the subcontinent will legalise an industry that is crying out for regulation. 

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