As reported by Gushot yesterday, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, was to table a private member’s bill regulating sports betting in the lower house. The bill, entitled ‘Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018’, has been introduced by Tharoor in Lok Sabha yesterday.
Dr. Tharoor, along with presenting this bill, also tabled three other bills, the Freedom of Literature Bill, Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill and the Disaster Management (Amendment) Bill. He later took to Twitter to announce the fact, “In keeping w/my efforts to expand our freedoms, I introduced 4 important Bills in LS to strengthen Indians’ rights. Will issue detailed posts on each Bill in the coming days.”
The regulation of sports betting bill addresses two broad issues concerning this industry. The bill provides a new definition of sports fraud and penalizes match-fixing and manipulation of domestic and international sporting events. The bill also aims to create a pan-India regulatory and licensing framework to oversee the industry, subject to safeguards and guidelines.
Dr. Tharoor expanded on the bill saying, “The integrity of sports is essential to preserve its beneficial aspects. Sports integrity is increasingly under threat due to unabated acts of fraud and corruption. My Bill addresses this issue by criminalizing sports fraud, including match fixing and spot fixing.”
He further added, “Sports is a major source of commerce and revenue for many entities, especially in the field of betting or gaming in connection with sporting events. The increasing commercial nature of sports, increases the possibility of sports manipulation by vested interests to make financial benefits. A complete prohibition on betting on sports has not been a successful approach, rather it has driven the market further into the black economy. The law must adopt a regulatory approach and effectively demarcate the lines of permissible conduct in the field of betting or gaming in connection with a sporting event. My Bill provides the framework to make this possible.”
The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) also weighed in on the development, with its CEO Mr. Roland Landers saying, “With the proliferation of sports leagues and the development of the sports ecosystem in India, the (Online gaming & prevention of fraud) Bill 2018, will be a step in the right direction in order to maintain integrity in sports. We sincerely hope that the suggestions put forward in the bill by Dr.Shashi Tharoor, are considered positively.”
Dr. Tharoor later expressed his thoughts in a thread on Twitter saying, “My Bills can only become law if the Govt agrees to facilitate their enactment in Parliament. I have made the effort to draft these Bills & put them in the public domain. Now it’s up to Govt & LS to pass them.”
Previous attempts at regulation of this industry by some legislators received cold shoulder by the Union. The burgeoning sports betting industry in India must be regulated effectively across the country if the eradication of the social evils associated with it are of any priority to the NDA government, and this bill provides ample guidance for the government to take up the issue as soon as possible.
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