Concerned about the "commercial use of cricket for business gains", Sports Minister M S Gill on Saturday criticised the BCCI for introducing an SMS game which requires fans to make ball by ball predictions for cash prizes in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
"I see the commercial use of cricket for business gains, that is going on. I am concerned, at knowledgeable comments, from serious followers of cricket about the latest venture of encouraging viewers to make ball by ball predictions of runs scored for economic gain in the shape of cash prizes," Gill said in a statement.
"This is viewed as 'openly encouraging gambling and betting', which official bodies do not resort to, even in countries where betting is legal; all this 'to make money and enlarge their TV viewership base'," the minister added.
The game has been widely criticised by cricket experts and the BCCI has been accused of promoting betting through it. Gill said the BCCI should have thought of the damage done to the game by the 2000 match-fixing scandal before introducing such a game.
"Cricket is part of the family of sports in our country. Its current riches, do not set it apart from other games. The actions of the BCCI, are bound to impact the thinking in other sports, sometime or the other. We have already had, sometime back, a match-fixing scandal, in the game. It seems the ICC, had expressed concerns about such possibilities, in the IPL league," he said.
Gill urged the BCCI to take note of the apprehensions.
"All these are concerns, which must be taken note of, by those who run the game. I would suggest to the BCCI to always bear in mind, that as the richest and most powerful sports body today, they have a larger responsibility to discharge", he said.
"They should bear in mind, that today’s commercially successful venture, may not be so, in five years time, and the game, has to be protected, for future generations. Modify the structure by all means, but after grave and serious consideration, of the larger ethical and moral questions, and the long term interest of the game," he said.