Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, on September 16, ruled out scrapping of the Meghalaya Regulation Gaming Act and Rules 2021 maintaining that the act seeks to prevent local people from ill effects of gaming.
“The gaming acts and rules prevent locals from playing. Therefore, if this (gaming act) is scrapped then our youths can play and there will be no regulation,” Sangma said.
He was 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.
Stating that the revenue from royalty has come down from Rs 600 crore to only Rs 100 crore, Sangma said 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 Rs 500-Rs 600 crore revenue and also protect the people from different activities. Hence, we thought having gaming zone at border area so that our people are nowhere close to it. With that intention we went ahead with the process,” he said.
He informed that from January this year, 8 people have applied for licenses for establishing of casinos of which 3 were given provisional licenses with a validity of 6 months in March.
Sangma however said the church leaders met him later in May expressing their concern on the matter. “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 added.
Stating all processes were put to a stop following the opposition, the chief minister said the applications of the five applicants have been stopped and no provisional licenses were given.
“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 done taken any steps forward,” he said.
“We are here to work with the people of the state and it is duty of the government to listen to the people,” he said.
Further, the chief minister also maintained that his government has no intention to bulldoze while referring the engagement with the autonomous district councils (ADCs) on the CrPC and CPC issue as an example.
“I am sure through this dialogue and engagement with the stakeholders we will find a way forward as I never believe fighting from a position but we should always negotiate and find a way. Therefore, my commitment stands that only after consultation then we will move forward (on the issue related to casinos, “he added.