The controversial SMS game introduced in the IPL, which evoked strong criticism for promoting to gambling, was on Tuesday discontinued with the games’ inventors taking note of the apprehensions expressed by Sports Minister M S Gill and many former cricketers.
Although no pressure was put for the game to be withdrawn, the organisers decided to stop it with immediate effect.
“There was no formal complaints about the game but the Sports Ministers’ views were taken into account and the organisers have withdrawn the game,” senior BCCI official and a member of the IPL Executive Board Rajiv Shukla said.
Gill had last week denounced the SMS game in which fans made ball by ball predictions for cash prizes, saying it amounted to gambling.
“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,” Gill had said in a statement.
“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’,” the minister had added.
The game has been widely criticised by cricket experts and the BCCI has been accused of promoting betting through it.
Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar had also criticised the game, saying it affected the sanctity of the game.
“I support Mr Gill partially. We should not stoop so low which will affect the sanctity of cricket”, he said.
The surprise pull out of the game came only a day after its inventors had strongly defended themselves, insisting it was not promoting betting or gambling.
“It is not a betting game – you cannot make a bet. It can’t be match fixed or manipulated. It does not contribute to corruption,” said their Managing Partner George Tomeski.
“6UP is a game of (predominate) skill. (Supported by written Indian legal opinion and advice),” he claimed.