Shillong: In a major development, Meghalaya Taxation Minister James Sangma on Thursday announced the government’s decision to repeal the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021 in keeping with popular public demands and sentiments against casinos in the state.
The announcement was made in the wake of the growing pressure from the church bodies, pressure groups and traditional bodies opposing the move saying that “legalising gambling” will increase criminality in several ways through illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, robbery and murder to finance one’s gambling habit.
Sangma said that the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021 was introduced last year with the aim of boosting tourism, revenue generation and employment for the people of our State.
“This Act would legalise and regulate gaming in Meghalaya. Till that extent, introducing casinos — meant for tourists only was considered as well,” he said.
In fact, the government had issued provisional licenses to three firms to open casinos to boost tourism and revenue.
However, the Taxation Minister said that there were concerns expressed from parts of the society with regard to the scope and impact of the Act.
Sangma said that he had met with various stakeholders that include religious organisations, non-governmental organisations, civil society representations, Dorbar Shnongs, autonomous and local governance bodies and youth organisations on the matter.
“I tried to understand the concerns of the public and the impact that the Act could have further on. Following such meetings and deliberations, it became clear to me that it is in the best interest of our State to completely scrap the Act, given that there could be untoward implications. Therefore, it will be my earnest endeavour to see that the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021, will be repealed,” the Taxation Minister said.
Thanking individuals who came forward to aid, advise and provide feedback to the Government on the Act, Sangma said, “The citizenry is the keystone of any democracy and it only strengthens our commitment to better governance when the collective conscience is addressed.”