THE Government of India can earn Rs. 1.8 lakh crore by imposing a GST of 18 per cent on sports ‘gambling and betting’ if they make it a legalised vocation. If 28 per cent tax is imposed as it is at present on cars, then the government will earn Rs 2.8 lakh crore. Business lobbyist body FICCI in its 2016 report estimated the size of the illegal betting economy at Rs 10 lakh crore. It’s somewhat enticing for any government in the world. The Law Commission of India recently submitted it’s report, ‘Legal Framework: gambling and sports betting including cricket in India’. gfiles cover story this time is analysing ‘gambling and betting in sports’, the most dreaded trade war of the world. Broadband has literally opened a Pandora’s Box, as one does not know whether the fellow walker on the road busy on mobile is gambling or betting. The technology has made it a herculean task to keep track.
Gambling and betting is as old as the world, and there is an ongoing debate on whether it should be given a legalised framework. The PublicMind’s 2010 national survey found that 67 per cent of Americans did not support the legalisation of Internet betting websites in the United States whereas 21 per cent said they would support legalisation. Australia is a nation of gamblers and it is reported that per capita they lose more money to gambling than any other nation in the world. Sports betting has resulted in a number of scandals as well, affecting the integrity of sports events through various acts including point shaving (players affecting the score by missing shots), spot-fixing (a player action is fixed), bad calls from officials at key moments, and overall match fixing (the result of the event is fixed). Our writer Vivek Mukherji analysing this passionate business, writes, “Given the enormous sums of money that grease the wheels and cogs of the underground betting networks, controlled exclusively by the mafia and criminal syndicates, it comes as little surprise that the Law Commission report that was submitted to the Ministry of Law and Justice on July 5, makes a helpless pitch to legalise “gambling and sports betting including cricket.”
Former Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar, who wrote the cover story in gfiles June 2018 on civil services reform, again reaffirms his conviction stating, “My answer to the weaknesses of the bureaucratic system is not to tinker with the induction process but to reform the whole system. You cannot achieve much by bringing people from outside when the leadership remains unchanged. Merely to say that the top leader works for 18 hours a day without taking a day’s leave is not enough. Enlightened leadership should be displayed at every politico-bureaucratic level in the government. There are areas crying for reforms.”
I would like to also draw your attention to the Bric-a-brac section, where there is an item regarding Elections 2019. It is going to be a fierce political battle fought on the mobile platform. It may not seem so as yet but the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are miles ahead of their political rivals. The BJP’s plan is to reach approximately 85 crore voters by all means. Wi-fi chaupals are being introduced. Expansion of transmission towers is on in full throttle. The cheapest smart phones are being introduced, which will support live video streaming. Every voter is going to be mesmerised by the onslaught of video streams on their mobiles. Elections 2019 is going to be the biggest gamble for all political parties, especially for Modi.