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Sight Screen

Thursday, May 26, 2005

What's with betting?

Shobhan Mehta has been remanded to judicial custody -- to what end, is the question.
Guys bet on cricket -- always have, always will. Way back in 1994 -- a little over two years before the famous Outlook cover story -- Krishna Prasad (who with Aniruddha Bahal co-authored that cover) and I had done a story on betting for The Sunday Observer.
Among others, we met this top flight bookie, who regaled us with tales of celebrities and cricketers and betting. Without naming names -- there was the story of this famous opener, whose uncle regularly placed bets on whether, for example, he would or would not complete his 50 before lunch.
'It was absurd,' the bookie told us. 'This guy would cruise into the 40s, and suddenly shut shop. And in the commentary box, the experts would talk about how he was playing responsibly, how he was shutting down for lunch so he could resume and play a big innings -- when we knew the truth was different.'
Apparently, bookies finally figured out what was happening, and declared the uncle persona non grata and stopped accepting such bets.
We were also told of a visiting superstar, who was approached by this music composer duo and told, if you can hit a century in each innings of a particular Test, we will give you ten lakh. The star whacked a stirring century in the first innings; then fell four short in the second when he tried to hoist a six and was caught on the line. Apparently the composer duo paid him the money anyways, for trying.
Point of all this being -- betting has been a perennial feature of cricket. So why not, as Viks and Sriraj commented below my post on 'Two-tier Tests', just make it legal, open authorised betting windows, and let the government cash in?
Some things -- alchohol, prostitution, betting -- just cannot, will not, go away simply because you make a law against it; it's human to drink, to bet, to find a way of getting your rocks off. Legalize it and you control crime (look for instance at how the market for smuggled gold crashed, once you were legally allowed to bring in a certain quantum of the stuff); legislate it and you drive it underground and create a whole crime ring.


  • Prem,

    Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, the above-mentioned things have flourished and will continue to flourish. Again, my point is leave it to the individual to do what (s)he wants to do, as long as nobody else's life, liberty or property is not endangered or damaged.

    I hate these freakin' moral police in India, man. Wish I sould spout all the potty gaalis to these guys. Ahem...I rest.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13:47  

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