Shillong, Sep 16 (SocialNews.XYZ) Succumbing to the protests and pressure from Church bodies, NGOs, local and national parties over the issuance of temporary licences to run three casinos, the Meghalaya government has backtracked on the contentious move.
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Friday said that the government would first try to take the people into confidence before casinos are set up in the state.
However, the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021 would remain in force to regularise the existing gaming or jackpot parlours in Shillong and different parts of the state, as they have been functioning without any regulation for many years, he said.
Sangma said: "We thought if a gaming zone far from the city can be established to earn substantial revenue for catering to the needs of the teachers, schools and hospitals. We had estimated to earn Rs 500 crore annually from this sector to overcome the difficulty arising out of the ban on mining."
Responding to the requests and demands from the churches and other organisations to reconsider the casino plan, the government has stopped the process to start casinos in the state, he stated.
Many organisations, including the Joint Action Committee Against Casino (JACAC), Hynniewtrep Youth Council, Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders' Forum, traditional heads of Ri-Bhoi district, Trinamool Congress besides the Meghalaya United Christian Forum had protested against the government's casino move.
The JACAC has called a public meeting in Nongpoh on September 23 to decide on the further course of action on the issue.
Meghalaya Taxation Minister James P.K. Sangma, who is also the elder brother of the Chief Minister, told the Assembly on Monday that temporary licences were issued to set up three casinos in the state.
"The government issued temporary licences to set up three casinos to provide additional attractions to the tourists, visiting the state from other states," he had said.
"There are huge competitions to attract the tourists. The other northeastern states have a similar topography like Meghalaya and the states also have historical and archaeological sites. To attract the tourists, we have to give them some additional amusement."
Though for the past 20-25 years, traditional gambling has been going on in the state with usual archery games being betted upon on a daily basis, the state government doesn't earn any revenue from this informal betting.