The Meghalaya Gaming Act 2021 is planned to be repealed, according to the latest statement from Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma. On Friday, he said the state government will repeal the act through an ordinance saying, “Repealing of the Act can be done through an ordinance, and that ordinance can then be passed in the House,” Sangma told reporters when responding to a query if the government would require calling a special session to repeal the said Act.”
The announcement came from taxation minister James K Sangma who said the decision was made after many protests from locals and church leaders who were against building casinos under the gaming act.
The chief minister expressed his views on repealing the gaming act by saying there will not be any mechanism left to regulate these illegal gambling activities, and it will be a step back for the government, but now they will have to move forward with what they can do.
After the meeting with church leaders, there were allegations that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) feared the negative impact on the upcoming 2023 polls, but Sangma assured that the government will always listen to the people first.
He also said, “We strongly feel that when the concerns of the citizens are there, then the government must listen – so whether elections are there or not, the point is that this government has always kept that as a priority. On many occasions, we have seen it has been done in this manner, so it is being done from the point of people’s concern and desire that this should be reviewed, and that is what we have done.”
The Joint Action Committee Against Casino (JACAC) in Ri Bhoi District is not yet satisfied with the statement the chief minister gave for repealing the gaming act, saying they want assurance by issuing a public notification.
Secretary of JACAC, Ferdynald Kharkamni, said, “As long as the government has not issued the notification to repeal the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021, the JAC against the casino at Ri Bhoi will not listen to what he spoke in a section of newspapers and electronic media. Until and unless the notification has not been issued, we will not believe that the Act will be repealed.”
The Voice of the People (VPP) president, Dr. KH Shen, also have similar views on the statement by Sangma, saying, “Repealing of the Gaming Act, 2021 through the Ordinance route would be nothing but an eyewash, the statement amounts to fooling the people of the state as unless approved by the Assembly within six months the ordinance would cease to operate thereby the Gaming Act stand revived and re-operationalized.”