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Pragmatic, honest

Editorial |

In proposing to ask the judicial and administrative authorities to accord legal sanction to regulated betting on sports event etc, the Law Commission has exposed the politically-correct but morally-hypocritical stance taken by those in power but out of touch with prevailing reality. A report being finalised for presentation to the apex court and the central government, takes the view that lawful but strictly regulated gambling and betting would help curb illegal practices that generate black money. It would also boost government revenues and generate employment.

The Commission estimates that unregulated betting annually generates about Rs 13,000 crore of black money which is channelised into a range of illegal activities, even terrorism. “If it is not possible to prevent such activities completely, strictly regulating these activities remains the only viable option. Regulated gambling would ensure early detection of fraud and money laundering,” the draft report says. Taking a highly pragmatic line the Commission has recommended that those who run sports betting gambling businesses should be licensed, money transfers cashless and gamblers must use their Aadhaar and PAN cards ~ that would be in keeping with other government action. The Commission was acting in pursuance of an apex court order mandating it to examine the issue of gambling on sport in the wake of the match-fixing scandal that had rocked the IPL in 2013. It opined that legalised betting “would enable appropriate authorities to keep a close eye on every single transaction made in this connection”. After studying the rules and systems in place in the several countries where betting has been legalised ~ the “odds” offered on election outcome are often more dependable than media-conducted forecast and exit polls ~ the Commission has advocated Parliament enacting a model law (betting is a state subject) clearly earmarking the distinction between games of “skill” and “chance”.

It has also recommended rules that prohibit children from gambling and restrict high-stakes gambling to those with matching incomes. It even said consideration could be given to FDI in the “industry” in the states that permit casinos to facilitate the tourism and hospitality trade ~ all employment generating. While the Commission, perhaps the apex court, will appreciate the pragmatic and realistic “angles”, getting politicians on board will be a bet offered only on “long odds”. The political class is obsessed with regressive “inward thinking” and rejects a “modern” approach as a cultural assault by western degenerates. Visible proof of that is a hesitation to criticise strict “dry” laws in some states, even though the debilitating side-effects are no secret. While there can be no justification for a flourishing flesh-trade ~ the oldest profession in the world as some insist it is ~ prohibition and legalised betting are in an entirely different bracket. Provided our leaders have the guts to discard obsolete ideological blindfolds and “get real”.