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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Hindu Centre: gambling needs to be regulated

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chennai, June 06, 2013
First Published: 19:51 IST(6/6/2013) | Last Updated: 19:52 IST(6/6/2013)

Taking the ongoing debate on the betting, spot fixing controversy in Indian cricket to a serious level, the Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy on Thursday called for regulating gambling through a new legal frame work in its First Issue Brief entitled Twisted Willow: Gambling, Sport & Cricket in India.

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Seeking to clear intellectual and moral confusion around the issue of gambling itself, the Centre's three young research scholars dug deep into the worrisome aspect of betting in all its ramifications and studied the legal framework and found its paternalistic attitude towards gambling and its focus on prohibition and punishment out of tune with modern day ground reality.

Distinguishing betting (gambling) from other crimes and vices like cheating and fraud, the Hindu Centre in its Issue Brief suggested that "there is a need to have the right to do wrong".

Elaborating, the three young authors of the 32-page report - Rajgopal Saikumar, Abhishek Mukherjee and Harsimran Kalra - said that the suggestion implied a fundamental liberty to make choices and "Wrong" implies certain victimless, amoral wrongs such as gambling.

"Based on the importance of liberty and individual choice, we suggest that the law not prohibit gambling but make a moral philosophical argument for regulating gambling," the Hindu Centre Issue Brief said.

The T20 scandal has brought out the need for a legal framework revamp, the centre noted but sounded a note of caution to move forward only after a detailed examination of all issues and stakeholders interests.

Any move to regulate gambling by amending present laws or introducing new ones should be preceded by intensive research, citizen engagement and stakeholder participation, the research scholars said in response to questions.

N Ram, former editor in chief of The Hindu and Board member of the Centre, wondered whether legalizing betting would resolve all the problems the Indian cricket was facing.

"A deeper and wider study is needed on the gambling itself," he said adding "there are linkages with mafia, drug running, and criminal elements."

Ram, who knows his cricket and minces no words, was convinced that Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were fit case for termination of their franchise. There is a prima facie case as there are clear flouting of conditions contained in the Franchise agreement, Ram said.

Malini Parthasarathy, Director, Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, said at a small function organized to release the first Issue Brief that the IPL scandal and the public outrage sparked off a keen interest in the team at the centre to deal with the subject.

The team was fast enough to grasp the different nuances of the subject and its linkages with the transition of the Indian economy from a relatively controlled mixed economic model to a free market economy, she said.

"The need to be realistic about the emerging reality of sports in a liberalized economy has also to be factored into policy making on sports and cricket gambling or betting," the Centre said in a brief note circulated at the function.

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