Various organisations, including the influential Meghalaya United Christian Forum (MUCF), on Thursday voiced “apprehension and shock” over the state governments decision to legalise gambling and online betting for tourists coming to the state.
MUCF Secretary Synsharlang Kharshiing said that if gambling, online betting and casinos are legalised, it would have far-reaching consequences on the lives of young and vulnerable men and women and their families, irrespective of community or belief.
He said that online gambling and casinos might generate a lot of revenue for the government, but the bigger question is whether people are willing to pay the price and are they ready to bear the repercussions of such an endeavour on the society at large.
“The leaders and the government functionaries should introspect before jumping with excitement without considering the destruction the decision may cause to the present and future generations,” the MUCF said in a statement.
Few other local organisations are also against the decision and want the state government to reconsider it.
The state’s Law and Taxation Minister, James P.K. Sangma, had announced last week that the state government is considering to introduce casinos and online gambling only for tourists coming to the state to generate revenues.
“No residents of Meghalaya would be allowed to participate or contribute in the proposed legalised gambling and online betting,” he had told the media.
The groundwork for preparing Meghalaya as a hub for online gaming, online betting, and legalised gambling began in February last year when the Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling Act, 1970 was nullified by the state government. Subsequently, the state cabinet approved the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Ordinance, 2021.
Though for the past 20-25 years, gambling has been going on in the state with traditional archery games being betted upon on a daily basis, the state government doesn’t earn any revenue from this informal betting.