The committee said betting should be legalised with an inbuilt mechanism © Getty Images (Representational Image)
The committee said betting should be legalised with an inbuilt mechanism © Getty Images (Representational Image)

New Delhi: A Supreme Court-appointed panel recommended legalising betting with strong safeguards and criminalising match and spot fixing in cricket to ensure transparency in the game. The three-member committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha, said though betting was a general malaise indulged by different sections of society, it could be dealt with by providing a legal framework. “There is a fundamental difference between betting and match/spot-fixing. The latter interferes with the integrity of the game and attempts to change the course of the match. It is tampering the game by the cricket players to benefit a few. On the other hand, betting is a general malaise indulged by different sections of society…” BCCI mulling to challenge Justice Lodha Committee in Supreme Court

“While the issue of betting can be effectively dealt with by providing a legal framework, match/spot-fixing is neither pardonable nor a matter for regulation. The only way to deal with it is by making it a criminal offence punishable by law. The Committee recommends appropriate amendments by the legislature,” the panel said in its 159-page report. The committee, however, said betting should be legalised with an inbuilt mechanism to ensure that players, match officials, administrators, team officials and owners will not be entitled to indulge in betting as it would continue to be an offence under the BCCI and IPL rules and regulations. Bishan Singh Bedi welcomes Lodha committee’s suggested reforms

Detailing the safeguards, the report said that regulatory watchdogs would be necessary to ensure that betting houses as well as those transacting are strictly monitored, failing which the registrations would be susceptible to cancellation. “The players, administrators and others closely associated with the sport would be required to furnish the details of their incomes and assets for the sake of transparency. Licenses would have to be issued to those placing the bets as well, with age and identification details recorded. Strict penal sanctions would have to be imposed on those transgressing the license and other requirements,” it said. Lodha Committee recommendations to Supreme Court on Indian cricket

The panel, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Ashok Bhan, further said that betting could serve both the game and economy, if it were legalized as has been done in the United Kingdom. “It cannot be overlooked that the worldwide legal sports betting market is worth over 400 billion dollars. However, with the interest of cricket being foremost in our minds, it would always be necessary to protect and invoke transparency from those involved in the game,” it said. Live updates: Justice Lodha Committee report to Supreme Court on Indian cricket