Government is focused on promoting tourism: Meghalaya Minister on casino proposals

Published on:

James K Sangma, Minister in charge of taxation has reiterated that the physical gaming premises are not meant for the local population and are exclusively meant for high-worth individuals (Indians and foreigners) who are looking for safe entertainment options like gaming while visiting the state for tourism or business or both purposes. The comments came in response to a query by Umroi legislator George B Lyngdoh in the assembly on Monday.

According to the local media reports, Sangma said that the locals would only benefit from the footfalls of such gaming premises in terms of employment opportunities, promotion of local art and culture, textiles, cuisine etc through local dance, music, indigenous food products, handicraft items, eri silk items etc. Sangma said the government is focused on promoting tourism as it would help in job creation, economic prosperity, and GDP growth of the state.

The issue was raised following the stiff opposition of the Joint Action Committee against Casino (JACAC), which was formed by the pressure groups and Synjuk ki Rangbah Shnong, against the proposal of a casino in Ri Bhoi District. The JCAC met Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma last week and got an assurance that the idea has been scrapped.

Janes Sangma said the taxation department, had before notifying the Rules under the Act, placed the Rules in the public domain requesting members of the public to submit suggestions, if any, and public notice for the same was published in the English and vernacular local newspapers on August 27, 2021.

The government has notified the Gaming Commission headed by former Allahabad High Court judge Naveen Srivastava. In July, the state government of Meghalaya 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 its operations yet.

Under the new Gaming Regulation, online games can be played via the 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).