3 Nov 2019

Sports Minister rules out legalising betting, may consider lottery to fund sports programmes

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on legalising betting, lotteries

Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Sports and Youth Affairs, in an Idea Exchange conversation with The Indian Express unequivocally stated his opposition to legalising sports betting, noting that it is illegal and immoral.

Rijiju, when asked about his views on legalising betting in sports, said, “I am against any form of betting and gambling. It is illegal and immoral. ”

The sports minister however appeared open to the idea of floating lottery schemes and draws to raise funds for sports persons and sports infrastructure stating that using lottery draws as a means to support sports can be considered, as such a system had been successful in the UK.

While stating that there are several other means to raise funds for sports apart from lottery, he noted, “Lottery is a good system. Like the UK, many countries have this system and it has generated a lot of money… I have to discuss the matter with the Prime Minister. Things are at an early stage, and lottery is one of the options that we are looking at as a source of funding for future. But lottery should be thought about in a professional way, not for gambling.”

In September this year, Rijiju had expressed his hesitation at legalising betting, noting that it is a state subject, and thus all stakeholders had to be consulted. He had however cautioned that a move to legalise betting or gambling could have an impact on society.

In the past, the central government has consistently maintained that while it discourages the activity, betting and gambling is a state subject and state governments have the primary responsibility of framing their own policy on the issue.