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Cricket news - Sri Lanka criminalises sports betting, match-fixing

Sri Lanka are hoping to curb the corruption in menace with the new legislation.

Sri Lanka Cricket have brought in tougher penalties for match-fixing and tightened sports betting regulations in an attempt to stamp out the corruption scandals that have plagued the national team in the past few years.

While betting on sports in Sri Lanka was already illegal, the new rules ban citizens from gambling on overseas contests as well. Those found guilty of match fixing now face a jail term of up to 10 years and potential fines to the tunes of LKR 100 million (USD 555,000), while also banning people with family links to gambling businesses from sitting on the sport's local governing body.

Dilhara Lokuhettige, former Sri Lankan fast bowler, was last year suspended for corruption in a limited-overs league in 2017. Lokuhettige was, in fact, the third Sri Lankan player charged for violating the ICC's anti-corruption code, after similar charges were levelled against former captain Sanath Jayasuriya and former pacer Nuwan Zoysa. ICC found Jayasuriya guilty of failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and the former national selector was slapped a two-year ban, while Zoysa got a suspension for his alleged involvement in match fixing.

The new law comes only months after Harin Fernando, the Sri Lankan sports minister, said the sport's governance in the country was riddled with graft "from top to bottom," and that the ICC have singled out Sri Lanka as the world's most corrupt cricketing nations. Former president of the SLC, Thilanga Sumathipala, was until recently a member of the organisation's executive committee while his family owned a gambling business. Sumathipala had repeatedly denied his involvement in that part of the family's business.

"Many tried to prevent this piece of legislation, but I am happy that it was taken up today," Harin Fernando, Sri Lankan sports minister, was quoted as saying by the PTI after the law was passed unanimously by parliament on Monday (November 11).

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