Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday said the state government came up with the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021, with the intention to regulate the gaming and jackpot parlours operating across the state for the past 25 years, reported Shillong Times.
He told reporters that the gaming and jackpot parlours in the state have been functioning without any rules, laws and regulations. This means they are not paying any tax, he was quoted. “It is for this reason that this particular gaming act has been brought in so that the gaming parlours come within the ambit of the law and are required to pay taxes,” Sangma said.
He reiterated that this was not done to start new casinos or start new gaming parlours within Shillong. “I am very clear that this is not going to lead to casinos or anything like that coming up anywhere in the state capital or major tourist destinations,” the chief minister said. The State had already issued 3 provisional licenses.
Various organisations, including the influential Meghalaya United Christian Forum (MUCF), voiced "apprehension and shock" over the state government's decision to legalise gambling and online betting for tourists coming to the state. Last month, Minister James Sangma clarified that gambling will not be permitted by locals.
Sangma said if the government decides to move forward after consultations with the stakeholders, it would be in specific locations more towards the border with Assam. According to him, it will be in areas where the government feels it could be a source of revenue without actually harming the state in terms of the social impact.