New Delhi:Concerned about the "commercial use of cricket for business gains", Sports Minister M S Gill on Friday criticised the BCCI for introducing an SMS game which requires fans to make ball-by-ball predictions for cash prizes in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
The game, 6UP, allows users to predict the outcome of an ongoing match.
According to the rules of the game, the entrant will have to send the runs that will be scored off every ball of the next over (for example 3 2 4 2 6 6, like in a lottery ticket) and people guessing the number of 6s, five or 4s in the sequence correctly will get a percentage of the kitty generated by the total number of people playing at that time. The minimum prize money for every over is Rs 10,000 and will increase after that, depending on the entries received, at Rs 5 per SMS.
"I see the commercial use of cricket for business gains, that is going on. I am concerned, at knowledgeable comments, from serious followers of cricket, about the latest venture, of encouraging viewers, to make ball by ball predictions, of runs scored, for economic gain, in the shape of cash prizes. This is viewed as 'openly encouraging gambling and betting', which official bodies do not resort to, even in countries, where betting is legal; all this 'to make money and enlarge their TV viewership base'," Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill said in a statement.
"Cricket is part of the family of sports in our country. Its current riches, do not set it apart, from other games. The actions of the BCCI, are bound to impact, the thinking in other sports, sometime or the other. We have already had, sometime back, a match-fixing scandal, in the game. It seems the ICC, had expressed concerns about such possibilities, in the IPL league," he added.
"All these are concerns, which must be taken note of, by those who run the game. I would suggest to the BCCI, to always bear in mind, that as the richest and most powerful sports body today, they have a larger responsibility to discharge. They should bear in mind, that today's commercially successful venture, may not be so, in five years time, and the game, has to be protected, for future generations. Modify the structure by all means, but after grave and serious consideration, of the larger ethical and moral questions, and the long term interest of the game," Gill said.
However, Indian Premier League Chairman Lalit Modi has already denied any element of betting in the game, as it is banned in India and said that it is like a predict-and-win contest.