29 Sep 2019 Jonas Lemberg

Kiren Rijiju non-committal on sports betting legalisation

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on legalising betting, lotteries

Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju in an interview given to daily Deccan Herald last week, appeared to not give any clear answer on the issue of rampant betting in sports and whether it should be legalised.

The Sports Minister in his reply to a question on sports betting in the interview, noted that his ministry, whenever it is made aware about it, tries to imposed a crackdown on illegal betting activities. He also noted that different states have to be taken on board before a decision can be taken on the issue.

He told Deccan Herald, “These are things that have a bearing on society. For example, in many countries, consuming alcohol is banned. We have always had a major crackdown on gambling. Whenever we are aware of it, we don’t allow it. But I agree that some cases remain off the hook. The ministry will have to consult different States before taking a call on this. The scenarios are different in different States. Like Sikkim has permitted casinos. As I said, whatever we decide, will have a bearing on society.”

Rijiju’s stance is similar to the written replies given by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to a query in the Lok Sabha few months ago, on banning online betting websites. Prasad had stated that betting and gambling are state subjects and that individual state governments are free to take a decision on the matter.

Last year, the Law Minister had on a few occasions stated that the 276th report of the Law Commission of India, which had recommended legalising betting as one of the alternatives, was under consideration of the government, without giving any definitive details about whether the government intends to take any action on the issue.

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