Betting In Sports

Tejal Ratnakar Patil, BA LL.B Student
G.J. Advani Law College, Mumbai
Email Id :

Date : 11/08/2020

Betting In Sports

The definition of "Betting" as per Black's Law Dictionary is "Making a bet occurs when there is a chance for profit if a player is skillful and lucky...A play for value against an uncertain event in hope of gaining something of value...It involves not only a chance, but hope of gaining something beyond the amount played. Gambling consists of consideration, an element of chance, and a reward..The elements of gambling are payment of a price for a chance to win a prize[1*]."

[1* Bryan A. Garner, Black's Law Dictionary, 46th 679, 10th Edition (2014).]

One of the world's fastest-growing markets is the sports betting industry, its gaining global popularity among people of all generations. For both sports people and bettors this sector provides massive growth opportunities. The sports betting market will eventually thrive dynamically in the coming years since the digital age transforms the world almost every second.

Several governments in various parts of the world have in the past few years relaxed the rules and restrictions on betting activities. For example, a federal ban on professional and amateur sport protection laws in the U.S. was revoked by the Supreme Court. In comparison to this, stringent regulations are imposed by different government agencies of several countries around the globe that could impede the future development of the worldwide market for sports betting.

The widespread sports betting marketplace is officially classified into three sections. Firstly, the kind of sport, for instance- cricket, basketball, football, auto racing, horse riding etc. Second section is the betting site, i.e. online betting or offline betting and then finally the betting method- e-sports, spread betting, exchange betting, pari-mutuel etc.

In layman terms, "Sports betting" is when an individual places a financial wager (something, such as a sum of money, risked on an uncertain event) on the end result of a sporting match. Traditionally, sports gambling have been limited to a person who personally placed a bet on a horse race result. Many bookies subsequently moved past horse racing and decided to start gambling on sports teams and some bookies started taking betting on the phones and internet and this is how internet sports gambling came in practice.

Thereafter, the essence and standards of sports gambling evolved more radically, the proliferation of the Internet and technologies caused more and more online sports betting ; the concept of betting itself switched from merely betting on the end result of the event to " in play-betting" etc.

Origin of Sports Betting

Where sports betting originated is hard to say precisely. The sports passion of Greece led them to bring the Olympics to the world and also the earliest sports betting history. Sports betting spread to Rome's from those in the Greeks, where it was gradually also recognized and made legal, betting in chariot or circus races was normal in Rome.

Some religious authorities attempted during the medieval times to make rules that expressly forbids it. It drove the betting of sports underground, where it flourished and evolved. Around the start of the 18th century, gambling horses was common in the UK. England also broadened its practice to involve the international community, specifically the US. For nations such as the United States, NZ, betting law was officially implemented at the end of the 19th century.

Increase in the amount of sporting events that people would bet on has attributed to the popularity of sports betting. You can nowadays bet on a wide range of sports events from rugby to American football and all of them.

Various Forms of Gambling and Betting-

Traditional betting- It implies betting on the outcome of a particular tournament with uncertainties.

Spread betting- In such a kind of betting, odds is on the difference among two teams or players in the final outcome.

Pari-mutuel bet- In this bet the odds are originally equal for the different players and afterwards adjusted by the sum of bets from multiple participants.

Live betting- When the game is live, the teams play, and the odds are adjusted in real time, based on the match progress.

Exchange betting- None formally sets up the odds in this betting, so it is the participants who accept or refuse other players' offers.

Scenario in India-

People in India are not entitled to make online betting and therefore hawala systems are used for the acquiring of the passwords and for carrying on transactions on the websites outside the country. Regardless of being illegal, betting is heavily embedded in Indian tradition - literally all people have always known it, yet nobody wants to speak regarding this.

In particular, bet means putting a sum on the prediction of the happening or non happening of an event. The estimated illegitimate Indian bet market is worth more than Rs.3.00 000 crore, (around USD 43.8 billion) based on the current record of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).[2*]



In the IPL's sixth edition of 2013, police in Delhi arrested three Rajasthan Royals franchises players for spot-fixing shortly after their match in Mumbai. At that time eleven bookies, one of whom was a former Royals player, were also arrested. This arrest sparked with a nationwide bookie hunt. A local artist, "Vindoo" Dara Singh was one of the people being taken up in Bombay on grounds of alleged links to book makers. His statements directed the police authorities to arrest Mr Gurunath Meiyappan, then President of BCCI, son-in-law Mr N. Srinivasan.[3*]


Supreme Court Committee Report-

Following on after the IPL 6 fiasco, the BCCI was subject to a number of management controversies. In order to inquire into these claims, the Supreme Court of India appointed Mr. Justice Mukul Mugdal. The 'Mudgal Committee'[4*] emphasized the inability of the inspections departments to detect fraud concerning sports and was of view that legalization of sports betting regulation are essential to the identification of fraud.


Another SC committee headed by Hon'ble Justice R.M. Lodha, on identical grounds, proposed that match-fixing and placing bets be prosecuted/criminalized.

The Lodha Committee's Report Chpt. IX focused on "Match-Fixing and Betting".[5*] Few of the following things Included in the Report are as follows-

1. Licenses must be provided with age and identity information registered, for those making bets.

2. For those violating the license and other conditions, stringent criminal penalties would be levied.

3. Teams, officials and others directly connected to sport are required, for the sake of accountability and openness, to provide information about their assets and income.


Law Commission of India report

The Supreme Court ordered the India Law Commission (LCI) evaluate whether cricket betting to be legalized and, if so, draft a law that would require it to be. Legal Framework: Gambling and Sports Betting including in Cricket in India"[6*] was published by the LCI.

[6* Government Of India,Law Commission Of India, Report No. 276 - Legal Framework: Gambling And Sports Betting Including In Cricket In India,July 2018]

The LCI noted that the unlawful and unregulated Indian betting industry is excessively difficult to manage. Legalization of betting will establish clarity and identify fraud and money laundering. The ICL believes that, if sports betting is left unregulated, the corruption of the sport will continue to grow in a state where it is unmanageable, especially in the most famous sports of India i.e. Cricket.

Laws Pertaining To Gambling In India

While centralized acts are in effect, different States have different gambling laws. The explanation to this is in the seventh schedule of the Indian constitution, which provides states expressly the right to enforce and to follow' gambling and betting' policy. In the Seventh Schedule Entry 34 List II it is quite clear that states will legalize gambling if they want to. Any state government is allowed to enforce gambling laws as it sees fit. In any of the state cases, the Central Government cannot interfere.

British India

Gambling in India was regulated by the Public Gambling Act, 1867[7*] before the enactment of the Constitution of India. It is presumed that from the Gaming Act 1845[8*], and the Betting Act 1853, passed by the United Kingdom Parliament, that Public Gambling act 1867 came into existence. The Indian Public Gambling Act of 1867, limited the use of public betting and gaming houses, but exempted the game of skills.

[7* ACT NO. 2 of 1867]

[8* 1845 CHAPTER 109]

In addition, in India, the British government ran lotteries and used money for the construction of towns. Therefore, although public gambling was banned in India before India's Independence, horse racing and lotteries were allowed to a large extent. In Bombay's presidency, the Bombay Race-Courses Licensing Act 1912[9*] allowed horses races in India before the constitution was enacted. Likewise, Act VIII of 1867 permits membership, prizes and stakes in horse-race events in the Bengal presidency.

[9* ACT 3 OF 1912]

Independent India

With the adoption of the Indian Constitution and its incorporation on 26 January 1950, gaming matters were divided. Betting and gaming were mentioned under State List Entry 34. This ensures that the laws relating to betting and gambling are only enacted by the state legislature. Therefore, under Entry 62 of the State List the state legislature is authorized to make legislation on wagering and gambling taxes. Following the constitution, several States have adopted with some changes the provisions of the 1867 Public Gambling Act, and each state has a law of its own.

Horse racing

The Public Gambling Act 1867 has been accepted by most States with an amendment regarding horses' races, which specifically excludes it. The Supreme Court of India accepted the fact that horse racing, rummys, etc. are games of skill in the case of Dr KR Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu, AIR 1996 SC 1153. The case also held that horse racing was a game of competence, because it consisted of the assessment of how horses and jockey are shaped and the essence of the race.

The States legalizing horse race betting include: Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and the West Bengal. But open horse riding is happening at the turf clubs in Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mysore etc.

Sports Betting

Whether it is a skill game or a casual game, the nature of sport betting has not been explained by the India Supreme Court or by the high court. In the absence of a judgment, the legal status of sports betting in India is a grievous area. With the enactment of the Sikkim Online Gaming Act 2008[11*] Sikkim took the chance to legalize online sports betting within the state. The Act allows betting on sport games such as football, cricket, tennis courts, and horse racing.

[11* ACT NO. 23 OF 2008]

The sport of teer in Meghalaya (a form of archery) has been exempted from the state Gambling Act and is licensed to bet on it. Such licenses must be given in compliance with Section 14A of the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax Amendment Act 1982[12*].

[12* ACT NO. 5 OF 1982]

In India, sports betting's legal status is not clear. Hence, licenses for sport wagering have been given to private operators. Skill games are beyond the scope of gambling activities in states. Whereas skill games, such as horse racing and teer, require state authority's permission, other skill games, such as rummy are offered without license in most areas. Games of chance like casino games can be provided under a license in Goa and Sikkim. Licenses are given to private persons in these areas.

Gambling and Betting- a Game Of Chance or Skill[13*]

Sports betting-a skill-based form of gambling. Nevertheless, the world is governed by other forms of gambling based on luck or combination of luck and ability. Societies and judicial structures also make a distinction between the complexities of skills and opportunity matters.

[13* LCI Report no. 276]

Games of chance are those where the winner solely is decided by luck; the final outcome is absolutely unpredictable and the person cannot influence the outcome with his or her physical or mental abilities. However many games are literally opportunity based-people can't help by learning skill -for example all forms of a lottery. But on the other side of the coin, player experience, skills and preparation determines the outcome of a skill game.

Sport betting usually requires considerable degree of experience when evaluating a player's or team's ability and other parameters that may impact the outcome of a sporting match. Games of chance are generally not allowed in India, whereas games of skill, which are not part of the gambling spectrum, are normally exempted.

In the broader context of gaming and betting, the main concern is whether a game is a' luck game' or a' skills game.' The Public Gambling Act, 1867, states that no games of skills shall be regulated by the terms of the Act. In Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan v. Tamil Nadu State, AIR 1996 SC 1153, The Supreme Court of Hon'ble treated horse racing as a game of skill. The following was observed:

"Betting on horse racing or athletic contests involves the assessment of a contestant's physical capacity and the use of other evaluative skills. Horse racing is an organized institution. There is nothing illegal in horse racing: it is a Lawful sport. We have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that the horse-racing is a sport which primarily depends on the special ability acquired by training. It is the speed and stamina of the horse, acquired by training, which matters. Jockeys are experts in the art of riding. Between two equally fast horses, a better-trained jockey can touch the winning-post. In view of the discussion and the authorities referred to by us, we hold that the horse-racing is a game where the winning depends substantially and preponderantly on skill."

The Apex Court in RMD Chamarbaugawala v. Union of India, AIR 1957 SC 628 relied on the 'skill test' to assess whether or not an activity is gambling and the court held that competitions involving significantly skills are commercial activities covered pursuant to Article 19(1)(g), not gambling activity.

Foreign Judgments-

The Supreme Court of North Carolina ruled, in the case of State v. Gupton, 30 N.C.271 : LCI Report No. 276, that all athletic games or sports are not a chance game.

The King Bench distinguished between chance and skill for the first time in Rex v. Fortier, 13 Que K.B. 308. The game of chance was described as a game which depends, solely or largely, on simple luck without skills. Whereas it was the opinion that the outcomes in the game of skill were not casual but dependent upon expertise factors such as superior intellect, capability and training.

Betting Across the Globe:

The Government has a significant role to perform in protecting the general public from anything which is considered as immoral, specifically in those states that depend heavily on spiritual and religious beliefs such as some states in the Middle East or in Southeast Asia. These countries mostly outlaw gambling absolutely.

Several governments of countries are seeking a mechanism that legalizes sports gambling with a perspective of revenue generation. The United Kingdom, several European countries, Australia and a number of US states are licensed gambling jurisdictions.

The State of Nevada, Macao and some small countries has permitted for online gambling. Since it is regarded as an export sector through which profits can be claimed.

The sports betting are legalized in countries like, Australia, UK, New Zealand, and several countries in Europe, and so on. In contrast to many nations which are immune to the surge of legalization, India is relatively moderate in its betting regulation. With appropriate terms and conditions, the Supreme Court of the United States authorized and legalized it.

A Comparative Study between Australia and India-


Sport Betting Legalized In Australia-

In Australia, gambling is legal. Race betting became legitimate in 1810, followed by total sports betting in 1980. In Australia, you cannot bet on very few sports. The key limitations in Australia are in some circumstances with regard to TV and radio ads to protect children from an epidemic of commercial gambling.

Australia's Monetary Statistics-

The estimates till October 2018 showed sports betting expenditures in Australia rose from $921 million to $1.062 billion (a. 15.3% increase). The total race betting expenditure in Australia increased from $3.099 billion to $3.313 billion.[18*]


Issues Relating To Sports Betting In Australia-

In Australian sports there were numerous incidents, where gambling prevalence and the issues that it could cause were questioned, two big events have happened in the National Rugby League (NRL). Ryan Tandy was found guilty of fixing matches in 2010 and was outlawed for his life, former Canterbury Bankstown player[19*]. The Australian Nick Lindahl has also been banned from tennis for seven years, and AUS$47,700 was fined for match fixing[20*]. A new income source for state taxes was opened by sports betting.




Sport Betting Partially Legalized In India-

It depends on the state in which you are. Every state has different gambling rules in the country. Gambling in some states is a crime and lotteries are banned in others. Thirteen out of 29 Indian countries had lotteries allowed.

India's Monetary Statistics-

There is a huge market for illegal betting, the biggest being for cricket matches. The Indian betting industry is estimated to be $60 billion[21*], with cricket betting accounting for 80 percent, according to estimations by the Indian Chambers of Commerce Federation reported in multiple reports.

[21* Wikipedia- Gambling in India]

Issues Relating To Sports Betting In India -

Underground cricket betting led to major controversies in 2013, when three cricket IPL players were arrested. Afterwards, the players were suspended. The Supreme Court formed a commission to investigate the management and processes of the BCCI.


When a specific assessment is carried out in Indian of the Gambling Acts, it becomes clear that the main aim of these Acts is to prevent not absolutely gambling but to prohibit and control public gambling. In addition to these, a comprehensive assessment of the different aspects of the gambling activity that exist is the betting contracts that fall under Section 30 of the Indian Contracts Act of 1872, which deals with wagering contracts. This type of gambling is forbidden by all the public houses where it is done to benefit of the owners of the premises.

But if one does a methodical study of things into account, betting industries can generate a significant amount of revenue in India. Today, since the colonial era, the draconian laws in India have been against such sports. Ironically, the British government is now legalizing all different kinds of gaming. All other states have outlawed these games, with the exception of the Goa States under Section 13A of the Goa, Damans and Diu Public Gambling Act of 1976 and Sikkim under the Sikkim Gambling Regulation (Amendment Act) of 2005.

If betting is legalized, India will generate tax revenue for India's transformation and the financial strain to pay tax on each person inevitably drops dramatically. Strong monetary policy will further create Indian currency strong. Therefore, the development of betting market would lead to economic prosperity, and ultimately to public welfare. The Indian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be boosted by the advent and rise of tourism. It will contribute to promoting tourism. It leads to an increase in work and people will have the opportunity to earn a living.

The legalization of betting allows the authorities to track criminal activities. At Present betting is controlled by the underworld and vast amounts of money are passed via Hawala system. Legalization will helps to control money laundering. When the sport betting is regulated, then the money passed through unauthorized networks will be accountable, which would lead to the reduction in match-fixing and corruption. All who play an active role in misconduct such as match fixing must be prosecuted. When the legalization of betting occurs, officials must check the age of a betting person.

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