Sri Lanka brings tough sports betting rules to fight cricket corruption

Sri Lanka brings tough sports betting rules to fight cricket corruption

The new provision appears to be partly targeting the former president of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Betting in cricket is a rampant problem in the sub-continent. On Monday, Sri Lanka took a strong step towards handling the menace by introducing tough penalties for the match-fixing offence and put up restrictions on betting in sports. The islanders have been fighting corruption in their cricket for some time now with allegations against them, including charges of match-fixing ahead of a Test match against England last year.

Earlier this year, Sanath Jayasuriya, one of the greatest cricketers Sri Lanka has produced, was banned for two years from all cricket-related activities by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) anti-corruption unit. The former Lanka captain was punished for refusing to cooperate with probe corruption in the country.

Another Sri Lanka player Dilhara Lokuhettige was suspended last year on charges of corruption linked to a T10 league in the UAE in 2017. A third cricketer from the island — Nuwan Zoysa — was also charged with violating the ICC’s anti-corruption code. Avishka Gunawardene was also handed suspension because of corruption allegations.

Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Hain Fernando said after the legislation was passed unanimously by the country’s parliament that many tried to prevent it and expressed happiness over the fact that the matter was taken up at the end.

Betting in sporting events in the island-nation is already illegal but under the new law, Sri Lankans will be banned from gambling even in overseas events. Offenders could face up to 10 years of jail and fines of up to $555,000 for match-fixing under the new law as per reports in Business Standard. The new legislation also bans people with family links to gambling businesses from sitting on the sport’s local regulating body.

Thilanga Sumathipala under radar?

The new provision appears to be partly targeting the former president of Sri Lanka Cricket — Thilanga Sumathipala — who was until recently a member of the organisation’s executive committee and whose family also owns businesses in gambling. Sumathipala, a politician, though has repeatedly denied involvement in the gambling side of the family business.

The latest legislation comes months after Fernando said that the game’s local governance was riddled with corruption from top to bottom and the ICC considered the 1996 world champions as one of the world’s most corrupt cricketing nations.

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