MH: Bill to repeal Casinos Act passed in Vidhan Sabha

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The state of Maharashtra has now passed the bill to repeal the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Taxes) Act, 1976. The bill was presented for approval in the latest Vidhan Sabha session on Friday, December 8. This essentially means halting of entry for any legal casino operations across the state of Maharashtra.

The Act in question was a potential way in for establishment of casinos in Maharashtra. Under Section 1, Sub-section 3, the Casinos Act could have been made official through a Gazette notification. However, since the Govt believed that casinos should not be allowed, it was not put into effect, and has now been repealed.

Controversy regarding legalizing of Casinos Act

Controversies regarding legalization of casinos in Maharashtra has been ongoing for quite some time now. Many have actively supported legalizing casinos, hinting a potential increase to government revenues. Whereas, others have opposed, claiming that it will only bring harm to people and may lead to addiction.

The debate hasn’t remained limited to casinos, as the same applies for money games like online poker and rummy. Prominent people have raised their voices against skill gaming platforms and said that they cause harm to the youth. The addictive nature of these games has also been questioned from time to time.

That said, having legal casinos does have a few benefits in addition to increased revenue as aforementioned. The Centre has recently implemented an increased GST rate for casinos, which could have largely benefitted the state’s earnings. Potential tourism boost may bring in major revenue for the state government, similar to its neighbour Goa.

Additionally, people may become less hesitant to visit casinos, as government regulation brings confidence. The idea, though, isn’t completely foolproof as proper evaluation of these casinos is required. This can be achieved with the help of weeding out bad actors.

Moreover, awareness regarding casinos will also be helpful to make it more mainstream since many are still frowned upon and face social stigma from the majority of the population.