A day after Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma told the Assembly that the government is rethinking about opening casinos in the state without renewing the 6-month temporary licenses of the 3 allotted firms, he ruled out scrapping the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act 2021 as it seeks to prevent local people from ill effects of gaming.
Replying to a zero hour notice brought by Nongkrem legislator Lambor Malngiang demanding the government to scrap the Meghalaya Regulation Gaming Act and Rules, 2021 in the assembly, Sangma said, “The gaming acts and rules prevent locals from playing. Therefore, if this (Gaming Act) is scrapped then our youth can play and there will be no regulation.”
Revealing that the revenue from royalty has dropped from ₹600 crore to ₹100 crore, the chief minister reasoned that the intention of the government is to have a gaming zone to bring in revenue to the state. “We want to balance this entire process and ensure ₹500- ₹600 crore revenue and also protect the people from different activities. Hence, we thought of having a gaming zone at the border area so that our people are nowhere close to it. With that intention we went ahead with the process,” he said.
Elaborating on the progress of the online gaming process, Sangma said since January this year, eight parties have applied for licenses for establishing casinos of which only three were given provisional licenses in March valid for 6 months.
The process stopped after church leaders in May met him to express their strong concern at the possibility of such activities being permitted. “I told the church forum that it is never the intention to bring the casinos to Shillong but in an area close to Guwahati,” he said.
“I told the church leaders that there is no question of going ahead with this (establishing of casinos) without taking people on board. When I met the NGOs I told them the same thing that I had already committed to the church leaders that from May till this month, we have not taken any steps forward,” Sangma said. “We are here to work with the people of the state and it is the duty of the government to listen to the people,” he added.
He informed the House that all processes were put to a stop after the opposition to it and the applications of the five applicants have been stopped and no provisional licenses have been issued.