India takes the first step towards the legalisation of sports betting

By Caroline Watson
India’s Sports Ministry has begun drafting a piece of legislation that would legalise online sports betting in the country.

Reportedly, informal consultations are already being held with various stakeholders in the government.

Sports betting is illegal in India with the only legal exception being horse racing, which is currently taxed at 28%. The illegal betting market in India is worth a staggering $150bn and the government have been eager to implement a regulatory framework.

Even though most of this business is done through local bookmakers and unregulated offshore websites, the ministry believes making it legal could be a major boost for the economy.

Government officials have also expressed an interest in seeking assistance from its counterparts in the UK.

Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas is likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in which online sports betting will be one of the key points. He comments: “The UK has one of the most effective gambling laws. We hope to understand their system and see if it is possible to introduce it in India. The UK has overcome this (poor funding) through lottery and online betting.

“The department is preparing a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK and the aspect of betting will be included therein in order to understand the mechanism and evolve a view on the possibility of its introduction in India.

“However, it can be beneficial to the economy as well as sports overall. We are looking at the best international practices in sports integrity and ethics framework.”

Although the process is currently underway, it may take at least two years for the ministry to prepare a draft.

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