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O Tempora! O Mores!

Two articles. Right next to each other on page 7 of today’s Times. I hope you lot are grateful; I can no longer link to the Times so I had to type all these quotes out myself. The first article is by Ashling O’Connor and Andy Stephens and is headed “Call for action against novelty sport bets”. The “action” to which it approvingly refers* is that of the government passing more laws to regulate cricket. The article says:

Cricket, with its complex rules and endless permutations makes it an ideal companion of spot-betting. Traditional British bookmakers avoid bets on what might occur during short passages of play and were not affected by the events allegedly manipulated at Lord’s on Friday. However, the more arcane aspects of the game attract huge interest in some parts of the world, especially Asia, where betting is unregulated.

The second article is by Mike Atherton. It is headed “Shift of power base to gambling-obsessed India fuels corruption”, and it says:

The only bookmakers who offer markets on elements of the game open to so-called micro-manipulation are those in India where bookmaking is illegal and designed to avoid tax and service the black market.

Two questions.
1) Why is the Times printing contradictory articles on the same page?
2) Which one is right?

Two comments. Firstly, even I know that Mike Atherton has played a little cricket in his time, has mixed with teams from all the cricketing countries, has made a genuinely successful career as a sports writer after his retirement from cricket, and might be presumed to know something about these matters. In contrast the O’Connor/Stephens article appears to have been churned out from a Play-doh Fun Factory using the Quango Calls for More Regulation extruder template. Secondly, they might be right and Atherton wrong even so.

*Dear Lord, what misery has been inflicted upon the world because no one ever looked good issuing a call for inaction.

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10 comments to O Tempora! O Mores!

  • dWj

    “A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.”
    — Daniel Webster

  • Nuke Gray

    Natalie, India is part of Southern Asia. South-East Asia includes Thailand, and I heard that one Pakistani player made bets in Thailand, to rig the match.
    Mystery solved! Asia is a big place, and India is just one country within Asia.

  • Bruce Hoult

    How will new laws in Britain (where such bets are not being made) affect people betting in India or Thailand?

  • “Play-doh Fun Factory using the Quango Calls for More Regulation extruder template”

    Brilliance Natalie! Brilliance. I may steal it.

  • Actually it is perfectly possible for something to be illegal and unregulated, drugs for example. By making it illegal the government by definition cannot regulate it. My prefered solution would be to legalise it and then let the market create some mechanism to regulate it in order to avoiding fraud.

  • Okay, clearly Natalie is saying that banning something is a form of regulation, and probably the most extreme kind. Yes, this can lead to illegal gambling that is then not regulated by government, but any other kind of regulation is also likely to be disobeyed if it is seen as to onerous or unreasonable. So I personally agree with her that this is regulation.

    My issue with the quote probably comes from …huge interest in some parts of the world, especially Asia, where betting is unregulated.

    Er, Asia is a big place. (About four billion people and 50 countries). Saying that anything is banned “in Asia” is just ridiculous. Within the, you will find gambling regulations varying between a complete free for all and situations where the law says you will get your limbs cut of for participating, with pretty much every situation in between applying somewhere. So, silly comment.

    The other article’s observation that “bookmaking is illegal” in India is also not exactly correct. Bookmaking on cricket (and most other activities) is illegal, but bookmaking on horse racing is permitted. So again, a simplification. I have a fair amount of time for Atherton, who was a good player and is a better cricket journalist. But still not exactly right.

  • Ian B

    In the Proggie mind, illegal and unregulated are synonyms?

  • John B

    All the fuss is a bit strange.
    Match fixing (see Hansie Cronje )(Link) has been going on for many years.
    Cronje died in a plane crash two years after he was accused of having participated in fixing. Speculation about him being silenced did the rounds.
    I get the distinct impression that a lot of/most sport at national level is fixed in some way especially where there is a lot at stake (financially or politically).
    Perhaps anyone who takes it all that seriously is asking to be defrauded?
    I suppose, also, the establishment needs all the reasons it can get for more rules and regulations.

  • mehere

    Whaddya mean, micro-manipulation in betting? Like a horse coming in second when it ought to have won? Or those premiership footballers who had bets on the time of the first throw in and whacked the ball straight off play from a kick-off?

    (Okay, unsubstantiated mostly but but a) I have seen footballers slam the ball out for a throw in straight from a kick off) and b) it is entirely a rumour and without foundation that I did speak aeons ago to a National Hunt jockey who told me it was routine for some Flat jockeys to decide finishing places before a race meet)

  • gopalan

    I am an Indian, and a senior officer. Betting is illegal in India, not unregulated.