Ladbrokes betting on Maharashtra - Friday 25th of April 2008

It’s not just retail giants and multinationals that are making a beeline to Mumbai. International betting major Ladbrokes wants to set up shop in the city too.

Maharashtra may be the only Indian state where sports betting is banned, but the UK-based betting house, which accepts wagers on several sports like cricket, football and tennis, wants to change that. Last month, it made a detailed presentation on the benefits of sports betting to Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil and his bureaucrats in the Home Ministry. “Yes, Ladbrokes did make a presentation. We are examining the proposal,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chitkala Zutshi. However, she clarified, there was no immediate plan to legalise sports betting.

In Maharashtra, only betting on horse races is legal, as per the Bombay Wager Act. However, illegal betting is rampant in other sports — hundreds of crores are bet on cricket, for instance. Such betting is controlled by illegal syndicates. If the proposal is approved, punters would be able to legally bet on outcomes of games as well as the performance of individual players — whether Sachin Tendulkar would score a hundred in his next match, for instance. The government would benefit by levying tax on such betting, thus increasing its revenues.

“Legalising sports betting would make the tax kitty swell. Through strict ‘know your client’ norms, the authorities could also track the exact movement of money in order to ensure fewer controversies,” Royal Western India Turf Club Secretary BA Engineer said.

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