Sports betting may become legal in India

At present sports betting is illegal in India. But first steps are being taken that might change that. It will be a while to go, but it appears India is serious about tapping into the $150 billion market.

Sports betting in India right now

Sports betting, which includes online sports betting, is currently illegal in India. The only exception is horse racing, which is taxed at a rate of 28%. But that doesn’t mean that nobody is placing sports bets in India. In fact, the illegal sports betting market is estimated to be about $150 billion, which is largely run through local bookmakers as well as offshore websites, which are all unregulated. It’s being estimated that a regulated sports betting market could generate $50 billion in revenue with $1.9 billion going into tax coffers.

Looking to UK for regulation

The UK is known to have one of the biggest gambling markets in the world. And it is also one of the most strictly regulated markets. The UKGC is imposing tough regulations on its licensees and thus it is hardly surprising that India wants to look into the UK regulatory system, hoping to better understand it and to figure out if it may be applicable in India. To that effect the Sports Ministry of India is preparing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), seeking assistance from the UK in order to establish regulation for sports betting and online sports betting in India.

Cricket betting and match-fixing controversies

Opinions on whether and how sports betting should be regulated differ, but there appears to be a consensus that in particular betting on cricket should be regulated properly, especially in light of match-fixing controversies in some high profile cases. Notably in the India Premier League in 2013. Incidents like that can arguably only be prevented by tight regulations. An increase in tax revenue would be an added bonus, of course, but the reputation of a popular sport is at stake as well. Rupinder Singh Suri, senior advocate, said: “Regulating the existing system will weed out the undesirable elements in the betting business and will bring more credible and genuine players over whom the government can have more control.” However, this will not be an easy journey and in order to establish the best regulatory system, India is currently estimating another two years before everything is in place