India police furious over newspaper advert thanking them for not busting bettors


india-cops-newspaper-advert-sports-bettingSome police chiefs in India are decidedly not amused after a newspaper advertisement publicly thanked them for not enforcing anti-betting laws during the current Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

On Wednesday, the Hindustan Times reported that police in the state of Madhya Pradesh were struggling to explain themselves after an advertisement appeared in a local newspaper on Tuesday thanking police for not showing too much interest in rounding up bettors and/or bookies taking action on IPL matches.

The advertisement, which was credited to a group calling itself the Ujjain Betting Association, contained photographs of the local director general, inspector general and superintendent of police, all of whom were profusely thanked for the “unimpeded running of betting” during the IPL season, in stark contrast to the many anti-betting actions conducted outside Ujjain since the season began last month.

It turns out that the advertisement was intended as something of a cheeky op-ed by newspaper staff to express their concern over the lack of anti-betting enforcement in Ujjain. The newspaper’s chief editor has reportedly sacked the paper’s executive editor over the stunt and has promised to run a highly visible apology in a future edition of the paper.

That may not be enough to satisfy the embarrassed police, who have filed a first information report (FIR) against the chief editor and executive editor, accusing them of defamation and forgery for the purpose of damaging an individual’s reputation. Neither newspaperman has been arrested as of yet.

Meanwhile, longtime Indian gaming industry observer Jay Sayta is reporting that India’s Supreme Court will hold a hearing on July 14 to consider a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking legal sports betting. The gist of the PIL is that betting requires too much skill to be considered an illegal game of chance under India’s 150-year-old gambling laws.

The PIL, which was accepted by the Court last week as part of a broader case involving cricket reform, urges the Court to accept the findings of the Lodha committee report which sought to modernize gambling laws by formally legalizing sports betting and thereby reducing the frequency of match- and spot-fixing scandals plaguing cricket.

The PIL wants the Court to either direct the central government to establish rules and regulations governing sports betting, or alternately, to offer guidance to state governments to regulate betting using the powers granted to them under India’s constitution.