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M’laya set to become gambling destination

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SHILLONG, April 18: The state government is preparing the groundwork to convert Meghalaya into a hub of legalised gambling, online gaming and online betting.
The process had begun in February 2021 when the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Ordinance, 2021, was passed. It nullified the Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling Act, 1970, effectively making gambling activities legal within the state.
Meghalaya is the third state in the Northeast after Sikkim and Nagaland to make online gaming and gambling legal.
Pushing the agenda forward, Law and Taxation Minister James PK Sangma met representatives of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and several UK-based business houses to discuss the online gaming and sports betting landscape in the state and to launch the UKIBC’s industry report: Gaming for Growth – India’s Sports and Gaming Market Potential.
The UKIBC’s Gaming Industry Index finds Meghalaya to be the most gaming-friendly state in India. The index measures the extent to which each state has legalised gaming and betting based on their stance on seven different games – lottery, horse racing, sports betting, poker, rummy, casino, and fantasy sports.
Meghalaya scored 92.85 (on a scale of 0 to 100 where 100 is fully legalised) with licenses applicable in all seven games in both states.
UKIBC, through its report, reveals how a clearer approach to regulation would attract FDI, create jobs and growth, combat corruption, enhance the integrity of sport, increase the tax revenue in the state, and support the state’s wider tourism sector. The report proposes a series of recommendations to capture the large and growing opportunities for India to benefit from the sector’s growth.
Currently, different aspects of the industry such as betting on sports, vary in regulation and legalisation across states. India’s gaming industry is broadly split into ‘games of skill’ and ‘games of chance’. States such as Meghalaya, Goa and Sikkim have created exceptions within their gambling acts for authorised gaming, issuing licenses for games of chance in casinos on land and offshore.
UKIBC’s managing director, Kevin McCole said: “We applaud the government of Meghalaya on its forward-thinking approach to the license of games of chance in the state, which will help to contribute greater revenues and bring jobs to the state. A regulated market also provides safeguards and protection for players, safeguards that are not available in the unregulated sector.”
He added: “It is clear that both the unregulated and regulated gaming sector in India will continue to grow significantly. There are therefore strong reasons to work towards this growth taking place under regulations. To do so, we recommend the government of India adopts the Law Commission’s 2018 recommendation that sports betting be regulated. Not least because it will attract FDI, stimulate domestic investment, create jobs, generate government revenue, tackle corruption, and enable responsible playing.”

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