Meghalaya State Law and Taxation Minister James P.K. Sangma said the new Meghalaya gaming laws are not for the locals to gamble. “We came out with a Gaming Act and subsequently framed the Regulation of Gaming Rules, 2021. The government will accordingly issue licences to operate games of skill and chance, both online and offline,” he told journalists in the State capital Shillong on Thursday.
Legalised gambling, he said, would help generate employment opportunities, besides boosting tourism. “But the legalised gambling and gaming will only be for tourists and not residents of Meghalaya,” Mr Sangma added.
But locals will be allowed to ‘teer’ that marries betting with the indigenous sport of arrow-shooting. This traditional form of gambling is regulated under the Meghalaya Regulation of the Game of Arrow Shooting and the Sale of Teer Tickets Act, 2018 is exempted from the new gaming law. ‘Teer’ involves shooting a volley of arrows in 10 minutes by about 20 archers squatting in a semicircle.
Tourists and visitors for work or business would be allowed to participate in such activities only after producing documents similar to what banks require for KYC (know your customer). The ban on locals is something similar to the proposed ban by Goa which was upheld by the Bombay High Court in October last year.
Mr Sangma was recently at ICE London, a multi-day conference for gaming professionals to promote the opportunities offered by Meghalaya.
Coming to online games, they can be played through intranet (terminals) which cannot traverse outside the State of Meghalaya. This is similar to the system currently offered in Sikkim. Only persons above 18 are allowed to play and operators cannot accept any payment above INR 25,000 in cash.
A recent report by the U.K. India Business Council (UKIBC) found Meghalaya to be the most gaming-friendly State in India. The index measures the extent to which each State has legalised gaming and betting based on their stance on seven different games – lottery, horse racing, sports betting, poker, rummy, casino and fantasy sports. Meghalaya scored 92.85 (on a scale of 0 to 100 where 100 is fully legalised) with licences applicable in all seven games.
Mr. James Sangma said the government had not signed any agreement for opening casinos in the State. Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma earlier this month announced that provisional licenses under the Meghalaya Gaming Regulation were issued to three gaming operators. The Chief Minister was speaking at the inaugural address of the AIGF Knowledge Serie