February 7, 2011 3:48:47 pm
International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat favours legalisation of sports gambling in India while retaining his optimism for a corruption-free World Cup in the sub-continent.
Throwing numbers about,he said as much as $20 million is bet on just an India-Pakistan ODI match.
There has seldom been a cricket corruption of late without an Indian ‘connection’ and the clamour is growing to legalise betting in a country where legal gambling is confined to horse-racing while casinos are allowed only in a couple of states.
Lorgat and his colleagues in the ICC have held discussions about urging the Indian government to legalise cricket gambling,according to a report in The National newspaper on Monday.
“I agree with the notion that if it is regulated it is a lot better than if it is not regulated,” Lorgat was quoted as saying.
“We have made inquiries,and these are the things we are working towards.”
In the absence of official figures,media reports claim an India-Pakistan one-day international draws bets worth $20 million through an illegal syndicate of which Mumbai is considered the hub.
Lorgat,however,had no doubt that the Feb 19-Apr 2 World Cup,which India co-hosts along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,would be free of corruption with ICC’s anti-corruption unit beefing up its presence.
“I am confident (the World Cup will be free from corruption) for two reasons,” Lorgat said.
“The main one is that the vast majority of players are honest players. They do play the game in the spirit that it should be played. They are not seeking to make gains out of untoward means.
“Secondly,we are alive to what could come to the fore in terms of corruption. We have measures in place…
“I am satisfied we will have measures in place at the World Cup. We will increase capacity because we realise things do change.”
An ICC tribunal on Saturday banned the Pakistani trio of Salman Butt,Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir,who were found guilty of spot-fixing in the fourth test against England last August.
Lorgat hoped the punishment would serve as a deterrent.
“I think it would take someone very brave not to take heed of what has happened.
England captain Andrew Strauss shared Lorgat’s optimism.
“The important thing with any punishment is that it sends a strong message to people who might be tempted to do it in the future that if you do it,your career is going to be substantially reduced if not completely destroyed,” Strauss said in Perth on Sunday.
“I think this sends a pretty strong signal out there… I think it is a good thing that the game is cleaning itself up.
“This is just the start of a process,only the ICC and the relevant authorities know how far they are willing to dig and how thorough they will be on it.
“But I would urge them to be as thorough as they possibly can be on it because,as we’ve said before,if there is a whiff of something dodgy going on,that degrades the whole sport.”
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