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Busting gambling rings during the IPL: Is this the best use of police resources?

There are better ways to spend government funding than trying to bust small time gambling rings. 

These rings are the most prevalent during big betting events in India; and there is no bigger event than the IPL. With a population of over a billion people, it's no surprise that many people will place bets on the matches, legal or not. 

Just this year, police time and resources have gone to a number of high-profile busts, including when Pune Police busted an IPL betting racket, and seized ₹27 lakhs. 

Betting regulation vs an outright ban

But wouldn't it be better if these same resources were aimed at regulating a market, rather than an outdated ban? 

Every year we hear about police busting gambling rings and regardless the efforts of local authorities, nothing changes year by year. If anything, there are more cases of this black-market practice. 

Another example this year was in Maharashtra when three men were held, and one booked for betting on an IPL match. 

So, what's the solution? Many would suggest that aiming towards a regulated market is a better way forward.  

A lack of regulation is the ideal circumstance for a black market to thrive. In terms of betting, a black market is betting that is not licensed in any jurisdiction and, by definition, organised by criminal groups. 

There is also a thriving grey betting market in India. While public gambling is outlawed, there is no mention in the law mentioning placing bets online.  Several international online betting sites use this loophole to offer bets on sports like cricket, tennis and football, to Indian players.

It's estimated the illegal gambling is up to twice the size of legal gambling globally. This number would dramatically drop if more countries chose to regulate gambling instead of creating outright bans. Tell people that they are not allowed to do something, and someone out there will find a way around it.  

Competitive smartphone prices, cheaper data packs, digital payment systems and e-wallets are driving the boost in real money only gaming apps. 

Why is sports betting regulation better?  

Allowing for legal regulated markets will allow for licensed operators to compete against illegal betting operators, to the maximum benefit of players, the government and licenced operators. 

Regulated online cricket betting will provide extra protection to bettors. In a regulated betting environment betting providers need to put safeguards in place to ensure players aren't being exploited. This includes responsible gambling tools such as self-exclusion and setting time and financial limits. 

Players and betting sites also need to comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) where customers need to prove that they are who they say they are, by sending through relevant documentation. 

Regulation will also mean that police resources can be better placed. Instead of busting a handful of players betting on the IPL satta the police could rather go after unscrupulous online betting sites. Protecting a far greater proportion of the population. 


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