The State of Meghalaya in India is likely to proceed with its legalization push, or rather the expansion of the current gambling operations in the state. Responding to criticism of the current way gambling is regulated in the state, state chief minister Conrad K. Sangma said on Saturday that a proposal to repeal the existing Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act (2021) was not feasible as it would result in serious losses for the budget.
Do Not Hurry to Kill Meaningful Legislation
He was responding to church, political and other organizations that had demanded from Sangma to address the issue of a proposed gambling expansion in the state, something that the government is planning to do. The state wants to look into a number of changes that it proposes to introduce in order to regulate gambling better.
Repealing the act altogether, though, would do nothing to establish an actual regulatory framework though. According to Sangma, the existing legislation is crucial to making sure that gambling is regulated in some form. However, more needs to be done, the chief minister agrees, to achieve a better, and more sustainable gambling environment.
One floated proposal is to regulate the industry and add new verticals to explore. There have also been calls to introduce a GST rate on various gambling operations, including online gambling, casinos, and racecourses. All of this should be introduced as part of the existing Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act.
Sangma is already involved with a group of fellow lawmakers and wants to study the effects that introducing GST rates on the existing gambling sector would have. One particular issue is that jackpot and online gambling operations in the state have been running for years in Meghalaya but they have failed to provide tax to the government. He added:
“Since we are a revenue deficit state, we need revenue. Though we are getting a share of taxes from the central government, we have to broaden our areas of tax collection avenues.”Meghalaya state chief minister Conrad K. Sangma
Fear and Loathing as Gambling Regulation Incoming
But the idea of having gambling legalized for the sake of additional state revenue has shocked some, including the Meghalaya United Christian Forum, which has been lobbying against the expansion of gambling in the state and advertising for the dangerous impact expanded gambling can have on society.
Sangma plans to introduce casinos and online gambling which will be available only to tourists, making it one of the few states that would allow legal gambling. However, locals may not be permitted to gamble. However, lawmakers have acknowledged that despite a lack of regulatory permission to operate legally and above board, many locals have been participating in illegal and black market gambling activities.