BY Derek Tonin

India has been cracking down on illegal gambling for some time now, but new bookies and bettors keep popping up. There’s a clear demand for gambling, it’s just been driven underground. Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram and senior Congress leader, thinks it’s time to fix the situation, and has proposed a new bill that would regulate sports betting and protect against match fixing.

Glaws reports that the Sports (Online Gaming and Prevention of Fraud) Bill, 2018will regulate the integrity of sports by regulating online gambling, and penalizing sports fraud and match fixing.

Tharoor plans to present his bill before the Lok Sabha, the lower House of Parliament for India, as soon as the agenda allows it. Although the Indian government hasn’t shown many signs of warming to more legalized gambling, recent events might have changed the atmosphere.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a back and forth between Amar Singh, another member of parliament, and Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister of Law and Justice, on what should be done about illegal gambling. Prasad told the upper House of Parliament that if a ban could not be ensured, legalization should be considered. This bill by Tharoor looks like it would address the problem, but we’ll need to wait and see if this is real progress, or just a lot of talk.

Although gambling is legal in some areas of India, largely it is prohibited. This pushes operations underground, which makes them more dangerous, but also cuts the governments out from any tax they might gain from regulating the industry.

India might do well to consider this bill. It’s not like the average Indian punter wants to worry about losing a family member to gambling. Regardless of the legality of gambling, the additional benefit of match-fixing laws will ensure that not only are the bets fair, but average sports fans will have a more legitimate product to watch.

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