SHILLONG, Sept 14: The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) has demanded the state government to consult all stakeholders before implementing the Meghalaya Regulation of Gaming Act, 2021 and to withdraw the temporary licenses issued to any person for establishing a casino in Ri Bhoi district.
“We demand that the State Government should consult all the stakeholders before implementing the Act in totality and in the meantime to withdraw the temporary licences issued to any person(s),” HYC vice president Rhembor G Saibon said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening.
Reiterating its opposition to any form of legalization of gambling, online betting and casinos in the state, he said, “We are of the opinion that these activities will completely destroy the lives of young and vulnerable men and women as well as their families, irrespective of which community they belong to or belief or faith they are professing.”
“Maybe online betting and casinos will bring a lot of revenue to the State but are we as a state and the people, willing to sacrifice the future of our youths and the society as a whole and are we ready to face the ill effects of these activities on our society at large in the future,” he added.
The HYC vice president said the organisation also called upon the State Government, all the MLAs and the Officers of the State Government to do some introspection and soul-searching and take a conscious call “as to whether as a state we are moving in the right direction by implementing this questionable and debatable act”.
He asked, “What kind of a future are we leaving for our future generations? Will this decision be a boon or a bane to the present and future generations? Are we only jumping in excitement at the fact that we are earning revenues as a State?”
Referring to the recent categorical statement of deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong that the MDA government has resolved not to allow the operation of casinos in the state, Saibon said after a meeting with the members of the JACAC from Ri Bhoi District, the chief minister had assured the delegation that the government will not go ahead with the proposal to allow the Casinos to set up in any District if there is an opposition of the public in this regard.
He said, however, despite the above assurances and stiff opposition from various quarters be it the NGOs, traditional institutions, religious bodies and the public in general, the State Government seems to pay no heed to the demand of the citizens of the State and went ahead to enforce the Gambling Act, 2022 by already issuing three temporary licenses for setting up of Casinos in the State.
“This is evident from the statement of the Minister I/c Taxation Department, James Sangma on the floor of the House while replying to a call attention motion by Umroi MLA on September 12. This only shows that with each day, the MDA Government under the leadership of the NPP is all out to do things as per their whims and fancies and as per the suitability of their interest. They are not bothered by any opposition be it the public or any religious bodies or traditional institutions,” he alleged. (NNN)