Sports betting could fund athletes: AIGF

The recently formed All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has appealed to the Prime Minister to legalize sports betting in the country, local media reports.

In a letter, AIGF outlined the lack of funds available to various sport bodies in the country had affected India’s performance on the world stage, saying that revenue generated from legalizing betting could help.

“It is important to note that various industry bodies and jurists like Justice Lodha have recommended legalizing sports betting as an important measure to improve sporting facilities and eliminate fraud/betting in sports,” said the letter.

“A report prepared by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) indicates that Rs 19,000 crore ($2.9 billion) can be earned annually by imposing a 20 per cent tax on sports betting and gaming activities,” it added.

The organization also suggested to put together a sports lottery under the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998, proceeds of which can be invested in sports infrastructure and athletes in India.

Giving an example from Britain, Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF said “The National Lottery gives a lump sum to UK Sport, which gives a proportion of it to regional sporting bodies and then specifically targets those Olympic and Paralympic events in which UK athletes have a sporting chance. They, then, choose the potential champions they will fund and pay for their coaching and in many cases give them grants to live on while they train.”

Landers said the gambling-funded contingent from the UK was particularly successful at the Rio Olympics for this reason, winning a record number of medals.

In Australia, the push for the use of betting / gambling to boost up investment in sports infrastructure was echoed by Australian Sports Commission earlier this week.

In a post-Olympics briefing, ASC chairman John Wylie noted there were challenges facing Olympics sports as Australian government funding was unlikely to increase.

They too, were looking to emulate the success of a UK-style sport lottery.