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Law Commission backpedals on betting legalization, issues clarification

The Law Commission of India has issued a clarification on its recommendation to regulate gambling and betting on sports, saying that the legalization of sports betting should only be considered if a complete ban on unlawful gambling isn’t effective.

The clarification came in a press note released by the Ministry of Law & Justice on Friday.

“The Commission hereby clarifies that… it has been strongly and categorically recommended that legalizing betting and gambling in the present scenario is not desirable, and that a complete ban on unlawful betting and gambling must be ensured…”

Instead, the Commission says it recommends that regulation of betting in the country should only be a last resort if a ban on illegal betting is ineffective.

“… it has been recommended that effective regulation remains the only viable option to control gambling if it is not possible to enforce a complete ban in order to prevent unlawful activities…”

The clarification from the Law Commission came after strong negativity from government parties and community leaders.

On Friday, Veteran Communist leader Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy said that legalizing gambling and betting in sports would lead to cheating and provide no level-playing field.

"If betting and gambling are legalized, it will create lots of problems," he told PTI. "My initial reaction is negative about it."

Opposition leader Manish Tewari said the social implications of legalizing betting on sports would be "enormous".

"If you legalize betting on sports, not only will you destroy sports, but turn every ‘paan (betel leaf) shop' of this country into a ‘Juye Ka Adda' (gambling den)," he told reporters.

"The reason why most of the Indian states do not have lottery or the fact that lottery is banned, is because of the extremely negative social implications of gambling," he said.

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