New Delhi, July 17: The Sports Ministry has started the groundwork to frame a legislation to legalise online betting in India on sports. According to a report published in Indian Express, a ministry official said that informal consultations have already been held with various stakeholders in the government. The report further makes it clear that it may take the government as well as sports ministry at least two years to prepare a draft.

The Sports Ministry under the leadership of Mr Vijay Goel is also looking for an assistance from its counterparts in the United Kingdom, where gambling is legal. Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas, who is currently in England, is likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which online sports betting will be one of the key points.

A Ministry official quoted by Indian Express said, “The United Kingdom has one of the most effective gambling laws. We hope to understand their system and see if it is possible to introduce it in India”. Also Read – Kidami Srikanth, Pullela Gopichand felicitated by Sports Minister Vijay Goel

A Doha-based International Centre for Sports Security in its report mentioned that the illegal betting market in India is worth $150 billion, or roughly Rs 9.6 lakh crore. Most of the transaction takes place through local bookmakers and unregulated offshore websites.

At present, in India betting is legal only in horse racing, and it is taxed at 28 per cent under GST.

At the high-level meeting between the Group of Secretaries, the Sports Ministry said it can address the issue of poor funding for sports at central and state level by making online betting legal. The Ministry is also thinking to divert a sizeable part of the revenue generated from betting towards the ministry’s programmes.

The Ministry in its presentation said that their department is preparing a MoU with the UK and the aspect of betting will be included therein to understand the mechanism and evolve accordingly.

In India betting is seen as a sensitive socio-political issue. More so in sports because of the match-fixing and spot-fixing controversies. The issues of legalising betting gathered momentum when former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha recommended in his report submitted to Supreme Court said that betting should be legalised in cricket.