Betting and match-fixing

I’d written in my column yesterday, “Don’t Punish Victimless Crimes,” of how legalising betting would reduce match-fixing in cricket. Andy Mukherjee has an excellent column in Bloomberg today, “Woolmer’s Murder Shows India Must Allow Betting,” that expands on that point. Do read.

A couple of readers wrote in to say that they weren’t quite clear about how it would work. I reproduce my answer to one of them below:

If betting was legal, and as a punter you could choose from a) an HDFC subsidiary offering betting facilities, b) a Taj Group company and c) some shady outlet like the ones you can choose from now, you’d obviously choose one of the more legit ones. Being public companies, and part of bigger brands, they would be far less prone to fix matches. That would reduce bookie-led match-fixing.

As for punter-led match-fixing, consider that paper trails would exist of all bets and transactions, and suspicious activity would be far easier to ferret out.

Of course there will still be scams, for we are human, but they will be lesser in number. Consumers would have more choice and, because of greater transparency, more control. The cops would find it easier to catch suspicious activity.