Make sports betting legal, well-regulated: Ficci

Amid the raging controversy over 'spot-fixing' in the current Indian Premier League cricket tournament, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has called for legalising and regulating sports betting in India.

In a paper submitted to the union sports ministry on Friday, FICCI concludes that the ban on sports betting has failed to work, and approximately Rs300,000 crore a year in black money is changing hands in betting.

''Despite several attempts to ban it, betting is continuing although in an underground way, and substantial resources have been invested in enforcing the ban. The middle way out is that betting should be regulated so as to reduce it to acceptable levels. Hence, the government should think of legalising and regulating betting,'' the paper said.

Sanjiv Paul, chairman of the FICCI sports committee, said that for quite some time the organisation was pushing for legalising betting.

''The current problem being faced is very different from betting. The country is faced with fixing arising from betting. Betting is not desirable just as excessive drinking and smoking are not desirable. But banning these has not paid off and the issue keeps on cropping up time and again for last many almost two decades,'' he said.

According to Paul, the time has come to allow regulated betting with white money rather than black money.

A study by auditing firm KPMG revealed that betting to the tune of Rs300,000 crore takes place annually in India. If this is made legal, then the government would earn a revenue of Rs12,000-19,000 crore per year and also reduce the play of black money.

''The way forward to contain this menace is to legalise and regulate it in a particular manner. The proposal is with the sports ministry and is now being vetted by the law and justice ministry,'' Paul said.

The greatest advantage of regulating sports betting, according to the Ficci report, would be accountability for large amounts of money and reduction of match-fixing, money laundering and crimes.

''If gaming and betting is regulated in India, it will benefit the exchequer and could potentially fund sports development, social protection or welfare schemes and infrastructure development plans,'' it said.