The opposition All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) legislator from Umroi George B Lyngdoh on Thursday took part in a protest organized by the Meghalaya People Social Organization (MPSO) against legalization of casinos and implementation of the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021.
Lyngdoh said the Meghalaya Gaming Act consists of three points: legalisation of casinos, online gambling, and online betting in sports like cricket, football and others.
“(Therefore), we are not only opposing the casinos, but also speaking up for the removal of the law altogether,” he stated.
While speaking on the adverse effects of gambling on the youth of the state, the TMC MLA said, “The other guidelines of the law, such as the online gaming and the online betting, would bring huge loss to the youth of the state. Everyone possesses cellphones and has the power in their hands to participate in online betting and gambling, which will lead to addiction even though they do not go to casinos. They would play at home, at educational institutions.”
Regarding the fiscal discrepancy, he pointed out that “In the year 2019-20, the government released 1200 crores for free. If on one hand you release the revenues and on the other hand you set up casinos for earning revenues, the misutilisation of funds is very evident.”
Lyngdoh observed during the Autumn session of the Meghalaya Assembly on September 15, that the state’s per capita income dropped by 1.8 percent during the fiscal year 2021-22. He added, “The drop in the PCI also indicates unemployment. When we sit with people, many youths and elderly citizens complain that there is no wage employment.”
Simultaneously, in Byrnihat, the fire of protest spread as the protesters burnt effigies of the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong and Cabinet Minister James PK Sangma to mark their voice of dissent.
With the shaky fiscal foundation and rising unemployment in the state, the AITC condemns the NPP-led MDA government’s draconian decision to legalise casinos and promote unregulated online gaming and betting in the state.
Despite Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s statement during the Autumn Assembly Session that the licensing would be stopped, three casinos still possess the legal license for operation, it said adding that the MDA government should clarify their intent rather than taking an ambiguous stance on the casinos, while their actions favour the legalization of casinos in the state.