Poll on gambling reform in India

75 percent of respondents in an informal poll support legalisation

Amid reports that betting on local cricket through a major Indian media house website is taking place, the newspaper The Times of India this week ran an informal poll on the legalisation of gambling.

With the exception of specified racecourses and lotteries, betting is largely banned in India, although there are moves in the Sikkim province to legalise online gambling on a limited scale (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Introducing the poll, the newspaper noted: "Beyond the raging controversy over the finances and ownership of IPL [cricket] teams, there are long-standing murmurs of betting and match fixing in cricket, but that has not stopped people from indulging in it.

"Would it not make sense to legalize it? Prohibition never stopped people from drinking - it just made some of the alcohol unsafe. In fact, what a ban does is to drive such activity underground, with criminal elements, terrorists and the drug mafia all getting involved.

"Legalizing betting and other forms of gambling would minimize the underworld's role by bringing this activity into the open. The government would also be able to raise revenues through taxation. Some might say the social consequences of gambling -- stories of men gambling away their family's savings -- make it not worth the risk. But if there are regulations in place, this possibility too would be minimized.

"Should betting and gambling, therefore, be made a legitimate, regulated tax-paying business.... if the government is to legalize games of chance, it must also ensure that they are well regulated and also that the possibilities of problem gambling are limited as much as possible."

Of the almost 350 respondents to the poll, 75 percent favoured the idea of legalised and regulated gambling in India.

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