One of the vocal international cricket players, Shane Warne has always been in the headlines for speaking his heart out. This time it was his thoughts on legalizing online betting in India. Following the International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption Unit’s study which reported that there is an exponential increase in illegal bookies in India. This report also suggested a few steps to put a check on the same. Warne, on the other hand, was in support of legalizing gambling.
In his interview with The Times of India, Warne straightforwardly said: “The government of India is clearly missing the trick here.” He added that the government “should have legalized gambling a long time back”.
Warne also furthered his argument by adding that proper regulations and legalization would promise systemized tracking of big bets and the betting behaviour could be investigated easily. He said this move has certainly helped various countries in increasing the flow in their economy.
Reflecting on the behaviour pattern, he said: “if someone wants to gamble, then it doesn’t matter whether you legalise it or not; they’ll still do it”. It would be better to “benefit from it”.
Much like the US, gambling in India has been regulated on a state-by-state-basis. While Goa and Sikkim have allowed a few variations of gaming, 13 other states have their own lottery. The other remaining states are still awaiting legal proceeding on the same.
A significant factor which is revealed in the Public Gaming Act is that “nothing in this Act shall apply to games of mere skill”. This gives a huge advantage to poker which is popularly considered as a game of skill.
Apart from being a professional cricket player, Warne is also a poker player/enthusiast. He was the brand ambassador of a major poker website until 2015. His career as a poker player is as promising as his cricket career. He has $137,258 in live tournament earnings and his best cash out was worth $35,899 at 2018 Aussie Millions.
The support of poker as a skill game is increasing both from the people and the government of India’s end. In December 2018, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor proposed a bill to regulate online sports betting and penalize match-fixing and cheating in sport.
Like Warne’s any other frank statement, this one was in accordance with the advice of experts- legal experts, cricket administrators and jurists. This included the Law Commission of India’s statement which stated that legalizing and regulating sports betting will bring in more transparency which will benefit the system.