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Casino plan in Meghalaya goes to backburner after opposition backlash

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The Meghalaya Government has ruled-out the establishment of casinos across the state; after receiving strong criticism from different quarters, reported North East Today. Even the coalition partner BJP said it does not endorse the government’s intent to allow the setting up of casinos in the State.

Addressing the mediapersons, the Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya Prestone Tynsong last week noted that the state administration has previously decided against establishing casinos in the state.

“We still lack the appropriate regulations to move forward with casinos, and moreover, we need to identify a suitable location for such move,” he said.

Yesterday, the Joint Action Committee that was set up to oppose the introduction of casinos in Ri-Bhoi have met the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma and got an assurance that the idea has been scrapped.

Pressure groups, traditional institutions, political parties and the church all expressed misgivings about the government’s plans to turn the Ri-Bhoi area near the Assam border into a mini Macao. The government clarified that State residents would not be allowed into the casinos – they would be exclusively for visitors to the state, a practice proposed in Goa.

The government has notified the Gaming Commission headed by former Allahabad High Court judge Naveen Srivastava. In July, the state government of Meghalaya has appointed online gaming and betting consultant Jaydeep Chakravarty as the expert member of the Meghalaya Gaming Commission. With three provisional licenses issued in April, no casino officially launched the operations yet.

Under the new Gaming Regulation, online games can be played via intranet (terminals) which cannot traverse beyond the boundaries of the State of Meghalaya. This system is reportedly followed in the state of Sikkim as well. Individuals above the age of 18 are permitted to play. Furthermore, gaming operators are prohibited from accepting any payment above the sum of ₹25,000 (cash).

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