Gambling in Cricket II : Name of the Game


Hasan Minhaj had an insight to share on Hon’ble Justice R.M. Lodha: “Court ordered changes still haven’t been made”. Indian Courts have executed limited interference with (issues of) Cricket. Supreme Court [BCCI, (2018) 9 SCC 624], once pointed out: “Famous Cricketers produced by MCA, amongst others, include Abey Kuruvilla, Ajinkya Rahane, Ajit Wadekar, Ashok Mankad, Chandu Borde, Dilip Sardesai, Dilip Vengsarkar, Eknath Solkar, Farokh Engineer, Jatin Paranjpe, Polly Umrigar, Ravi Shastri, Rohit Sharma, Rustomji Jamshedji, Rusi Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, Sandeep Patil, Sanjay Manjrekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Manjrekar, Vijay Merchant, Vinod Kambli, Wasim Jaffer”; but this was not an Order; when dictated, the ‘obstructionist’ and at times ‘defiant attitude’ of BCCI was, effectively, just noted [BCCI, (2016) 10 SCC 23]. Interestingly, “taking a realistic stand, Justice Lodha had said betting is practiced across the globe and lawmakers in India should enact laws to legalize it“. That is where the question/answer lies.

There is an element of chance in Cricket that is focused on by several, who are not playing the sport but merely watching it. This focus is not always related to collection of statistics. Praful B. Desai, (2003) 4 SCC 601: “one does not need to go to South Africa to watch World Cup matches. One can watch the game, live as it is going on, on one’s TV. If a person is a sitting in the stadium and watching the match, the match is being played in his sight/presence and he/she is in the presence of the players. When a person is sitting in his drawing-room and watching the match of TV, it cannot be said that he is in presence of the players but at the same time, in a broad sense, it can be said that the match is being played in his presence. Both, the person sitting in the stadium and the person in the drawing-room, are watching what is actually happening as it is happening. This is not virtual reality, it is actual reality. One is actually seeing and hearing what is happening.” In actual reality, it cannot be even remotely concluded that all those sitting in their drawing room, and watching television, exchange no money, just passion, for that viewership; betting behind closed doors, even if just for a cold drink, cannot be monitored let alone regulated. What business does State have to intrude into these personal matters, if it is indeed kept personal. BCCI, (2015) 3 SCC 25: “Cricket being more than just a sport for millions in this part of the world, accusations of malpractices and conflict of interests against those who not only hold positions of influence in the BCCI but also own franchises and teams competing in the IPL format have left many enthusiasts and followers of the game worried and deeply suspicious about what goes on in the name of the game.”

INDCOM, (2011) 242 CTR (CAL) 337: “ICC held a special meeting on February 2, 1993 in London to decide the venue of 1996 World Cup… At the said meeting, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka were selected to have the privilege of co-hosting the competition and for grant of the said privilege, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka made a financial offer and/or bid of £50,00,000 which was accepted at the said meeting. Payments required to be made in terms of the bid by the three host countries to ICC and to the participating and non-participating countries were decided and/or approved by ICC at London at the said meeting. It was decided that there should be 37 matches in the competition of which it was agreed that India would host 17, Pakistan 16 and Sri Lanka 4 matches.” We possess very little information on how this special meeting was conducted; how the bid was decided upon; whether Courts monitored the progress. The suspicion goes deeper as we find other such incomplete facts.

Are we aware about horse-races? K.R. Lakshmanan, (1996) 2 SCC 226: “horsemanship involves considerable skill, technique and knowledge and jockeys have to be specially trained over a period of years. Whether a particular horse wins at the race or not, is not dependent on mere chance or accident but is determined by numerous factors, such as the pedigree of the animal, the training given to it as well as the rider, its current form, the nature of the race; horse-racing has been held judicially to be a game of skill unlike pure games of chance like roulette or a lottery. We have no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that 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; horse-racing is a game where the winning depends substantially and preponderantly on skill.” Thus, betting on horse-racing is not gambling? It is mostly answered in a ‘no, it is not’; gambling is betting, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain on the outcome of a game/an uncertain event the result of which may be determined by chance or accident or have an unexpected result; betting on horse-racing involves the assessment of a contestant’s physical capacity and the use of other evaluative skills. With the tomes of statistics available online – the expected results, team line ups, etc. – cannot one imagine Cricket to be the horse and the Cricketers, the jockey? Thus, betting on Cricket is not gambling? We, the people of India, await that answer: ‘no, it is not’; betting earns revenue, and the revenue it earns, on balance, is a greater good than the moral, social and economic negatives of legalizing the activity. Rs. 5000/- for Australia winning the World Cup [2019]!