Sunday, 6 June 2010

Legalizing betting: Morality over-powering economic gains?

I remember betting with my sister on small small things. As trivial as who will reach home first from tuition classes, who will beat whom in the game of chess, to whom does mummy loves more, etc. The winner’s take away use to be a Kismi-toffee bar or a Dairy Milk or a Fruit and Nut. Mostly we ended up sharing the chocolates 50-50 percent, that too with a fight on who got a little bigger! Small things are so beautiful! But as the stake increases, the gravity of situation gets compounded.

In the on-going IPL saga revolving around Mr. Lalit Modi and the allegations put on him, some where it was mentioned that he was also involved in betting matches and tarnishing the face of cricket further. And then I thought why isn’t betting legalized in India? And then I thought why should it be legalized, in the first place? Does it exist (legally)? O yes! It does! We have legalized betting in horse races, gambling in casinos and can easily find lotteries up for sale outside temples and in busy markets, especially during festival times.

Gambling/ betting is defined as wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods. Typically the span of time between speculation and outcome is very short.

In developed countries like US gambling is legalised but not all forms and with heavy restrictions. In the year 2006, gaming activities itself generated gross revenues of $90.93 billion. In states like Nevada, casino is legalized but with heavy state restrictions. Both state and local governments impose licensing and zoning restrictions. Economy of Las Vegas is thriving predominantly on the gaming and tourism business. The story is no different in Louisiana, Illinois, Detroit, New York, California and many other places and countries. But the system is so efficient that if try to dig, we wont find a politician or a state minister holding stake in the business illegally. The policing is very strong and efficient.

In India gambling and bookmaking is not legal per say. Few exceptions are there like limited number of casinos is allowed to operate in Goa and Sikkim. Betting in horse racing is legal and can easily be witnessed in Mumbai and Pune circuit. Pretext for legalizing it was horse racing involves skills and isn’t mere speculation. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mumbai saw Matka gambling a form of gambling until police broke down the illegally operating establishment in 1990s. Lotteries are legalized but are controlled by the state or central government.

I think betting should not be legalized. It is like a short cut route for making big money. Since the demography of India comprises youth in majority, legalizing might paralyze the “working psyche” of the country. When we are young we believe we can do any and everything. Sky is the limit and barriers are just like commas and not full stops. Such confidence will back fire in the game of speculation. We Indians are proud of its rapidly growing middle class. The growth is majorly because of the hard working nature and ability to set targets and achieve them. Betting, where entry barrier is least, can challenge the foundation of our strong economy. No doubt it will churn huge amount of money for the government and such money can be used for the infrastructural growth. But it is not worth having a developed nation with paralyzed future.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Considering the fact that the demography of India is dominated by young and working class people, legalising can cripple the economy. 'Hard working' psyche might get replaced by 'making shortcut' psyche. In the long run, it would prove more of  a hazard rather than any positive for the society.


  1. I completely agree with you.Legalizing betting will cause immense problems for people.I know people who have lost everything because of this vice.They loose their family ,job and then its all over.

  2. nice post .... and correctly said. the interesting thing is..ur post contain a food for thought...thnx...

  3. I feel the same..gambling should not be legalized..there is already too much corruption in India...why make the already widening gap between rich and poor..

  4. What u said is true...but then isnt stocks a sort of gambling?
    Drinking, Smoking, drugs are also addictive and dangerous.... Banning isnt a good solution...i Cant suggest an alternative too...hehe

    But I have seen people bet for IPl teams and make money. I see no loyalty... IPL is worser than race horsing. There atleast the game is nourished... IPL has created a bunch of egoistic, dumb Indian players

  5. Gambling should not be legalized. It will only lead to shattering the social fabric and life of vast many millions who are looking for shortcut to better life. A person earning 100 rs will end up spending 75Rs on gambling ...

  6. food for thought .. definitely .. but do you think if its legalized it will make any difference ... I doubt it cause the greedy will find other ways to tarnish the image somehow.. .

    and moreover as the above comment says people earning a meagre amount will also get involved and end up loosing more .. so not a good idea I think ..

  7. @The Author: I agree!

    @Indli: I appreciate your concern. Plz do not spam in the blog!

    @rohini: Thnx a lot Rohini for motivating me!

    @LP: It would only increase the gap between haves and have nots!

    @Jon: Why banning isnt a good solution?

  8. @Lakshmi Rajan: Yeah, thats the main contention...

    @Bikramjit Singh Mann: Yeah I do think if legalized, it will create a big hole in the society and at some point of time, everyone will get tempted by the offerings!

  9. I think in this post is enough food for thought!
    You have really great blog!
    Short Poems

  10. The first thing is banning is nt going to happen as it makes the rich and powerful more roich and powerful

    And secondly Indians are very much money oriented...they will not let go of this one shot fame to glory!!

    Do u think you can erase this vice?

  11. nice post...rightly said...!
    but i agree wid jon too...indians are too much money oriented :P



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