State

Govt rules out repeal of Gaming Act

Shillong, Sept 29: Chief Minister Conrad  Sangma has ruled out repeal of Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act.

He, however, said stakeholders can come up with suggestions if there are any specific areas in the Act to be amended.

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“It is a simple Act which talks about offline and online gaming and therefore the amendment issue is not there as there is nothing to be amended. However, if there are specific areas to be amended then somebody can bring a suggestion but as of now there are no areas that have come up to be amended,” Sangma told reporters.

His reply was in response to a query if the government would bring some amendments to the Act in view of the growing demand for repealing of the Act.

Many stakeholders, including church leaders and NGOs, have  opposed the government’s move to set up casinos in the state.

The Khasi Jaintia Church Leaders’ Forum (KJCLF) on Thursday reiterated its demand to close the casino gambling industry and repeal the Gaming Act

In a letter to the chief minister, the KJCLF said that it confidently appreciates the CM’s readiness and willingness to listen to the voices of the people including groups and church leaders as has been consistently portrayed and conveyed in many occasions.

“However, as a follow-up of what had transpired in the sittings of the recently concluded sessions of our state Legislative Assembly and thereafter, the Forum sees that there is no firm assurance of the present government to the closure of the Casino gambling industry and the repeal of the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act 2021. Facts as revealed in the public domain show otherwise!” the Forum said.

Conrad said six months” validity of the three provisional licenses issued for setting up of casinos has expired on Thursday.

“There are more than 10-15 applications lying with us and they have not been processed because we had said we will not go ahead until and unless people are taken into confidence. The three licenses were issued on March 29, which was way ahead of the public debate that started in May. Hence, at that point in time, the process started with the goal to increase the revenue and to ensure gaming happens in specific zones,” he said.

Asserting that repealing the Gaming Act will not arise at all, Conrad said, “Repealing as I said is not a point that we would want to discuss because this Act regulates the existing gaming zones which is also required but the question of going into new gaming zones and areas have been stopped as of now and will not proceed until and unless we are able to discuss with all stakeholders and then only we will discuss and see the situation and decide on how we should move forward. Till then everything has been put on hold and I have made a statement on the floor of the house and I think the stake holders and other people and individuals and groups should take that statement of mine seriously.”

He said the objective of the government was to have a win-win situation where the gaming would be right at the border close to Guwahati, not to affect the rest of the state but yet get taxation of GST which would be close to Rs 500 or 600 crore revenue would come in.

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