Casino plan put off but law won’t be repealed: Meghalaya CM amid pressure from all quarters

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The Meghalaya government has decided to halt the move to set up casinos in the state, reported News28. However, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has refused to repeal the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act and Rules, which was passed last year. Opposition for casinos arose from all political quarters including the BJP which is a coalition partner in the Sangma led State government.

Talking to reporters, CM Sangma on Thursday said the processes that happened before the order came will be there, but the state government has decided not to move any further in this regard. The government has issued three provisional licenses in April for set up of casinos.

“We have given instruction to stop any further process to happen, but the processes that happen before that order was given, those processes are there, hence the decision that we have taken and the communication that we have made to everybody is we are not going to move any further than where we are,” Sangma was quoted in the media reports. The Meghalaya assembly by a voice vote recently rejected a bill seeking to repeal the Gaming Regulation.

The announcement came following pressure from Church leaders, pressure groups and others.

Taxation Minister James P K Sangma last week had said that stiff competition in the tourism sector in the Northeast prompted the government to start the on-premises casinos.

Stating that everything was put to a halt after a discussion with Church leaders and NGOs, the chief minister clarified that the government has not misguided anybody. “…those provisional licences are going to automatically lapse after a certain time is gone,” he added when queried about the already issued provisional licenses.

A joint action committee formed in the Ri-Bhoi district announced an agitation from September 23 if the proposal for casinos is not put on hold.