By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
Not only is association football bedevilled by corruption in one form or another, but so also is the genteel and equally popular game of cricket, which is affected by illegal betting, spot and match-fixing.
The very popular and lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), especially in the Twenty20 cricket competition format, in respect of which the IPL is reputedly the world’s showcase, is susceptible to illegal betting, even though sports’ betting of any kind is prohibited in India, except in relation to horse racing.
On 11 May 2017, Indian police arrested three men at a hotel in the Northern city of Kanpur, where two IPL teams were staying after a match. According to the police, the men concerned had been in contact with low-level staff at Green Park Stadium in order to obtain information from them about the condition of the pitch, which would affect the betting on the outcome of the match.
The police are endeavouring to find out from these men whether more people are involved in this betting racket. The men were arrested after a ‘tip off’ by the anti-corruption unit of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Despite this ban on sports betting, illegal betting syndicates are known to be very active in India. In fact, there is an extensive ‘black market’ in Indian cricket gambling, said to be worth US$150 billion, according to the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), which is based in Doha!
In view of this situation, there is a movement in India to relax the ban on gambling on cricket, which, in India, is something approaching a religion. In fact, in February of this year, a Panel, appointed by the Supreme Court of India to look into the matter, put forward a proposal to legalise betting on cricket, arguing that it would help to clamp down on corruption in India’s favourite sport by providing more openness and transparency. Such a move would also, it is argued, be good for the Indian economy, as it would open up a great business opportunity for licensed bookmakers and global online betting companies to set up operations in India, and would also bring in an estimated US$2 billion in betting taxes to the Indian Exchequer.
Whatever else may be said for or against the idea of legalising betting on cricket in India, which would require Parliamentary approval, which, it should be added, may not be forthcoming from the current political point of view, there is certainly an actual demand and market for it amongst the cricket-crazy Indian population!
Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’