Meghalaya Flags Development Of Integrated Resorts

April 8, 2022
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India’s Meghalaya state is looking to expand its gaming industry from an incipient online gaming market to one that includes integrated resorts, according to a senior government minister.

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India’s Meghalaya state is looking to expand its gaming industry from an incipient online gaming market to one that includes integrated resorts, according to a senior government minister.

James Sangma, a Meghalaya Cabinet member whose portfolio includes law and taxation, told an online conference on Thursday (April 7) that the government wants to “look at the whole gamut [of gaming] and not leave out anything”.

When asked by the moderator if the state’s recent gaming legislation, which has regulated online and offline games of both skill and chance, will extend to land-based operations such as tourist casinos or integrated resorts, Sangma said that these options are on the table.

“Yeah, you’re absolutely on the dot there. I think that the reason why we’ve come out with this composite gaming regulation, which also has online/offline games of skill and games of chance, is that we want to look at the whole gamut and not leave out anything,” Sangma said.

“So yes. To answer your question in a very simple manner, yes.”

Sangma was speaking on an online panel as part of the two-day All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) Knowledge Series, whose focus has been regulatory advances in Meghalaya.

The minister said tourism is “one of the principal revenue drivers” for the state and that gaming has considerable potential to interact with tourist demand.

“Looking at the fact that the gaming industry is growing at such a fast pace, especially post-COVID, where we saw so many people suddenly on the internet … we saw that as a great marriage, because here we have an environment, an ecosystem which is very much dependent on tourism,” he said.

“And if you were to marry that with gaming, being online or offline games of skill — or games of chance, it doesn’t matter — it would, you know, make complete sense for us.

“The future of gaming has no limits, it keeps growing and growing and growing, and we wanted to be part of that story from the beginning.

“We see a lot of potential in terms of revenue generation and also in terms of going and exploring new frontiers,” he said.

The small northeastern state of Meghalaya legalised online and offline casino gambling and sports betting in February 2021, when the government issued the Regulation of Gaming Ordinance 2021, a document adapted by the Legislative Assembly the following month as the Regulation of Gaming Act 2021.

The legislation made Meghalaya only the third state in India to legalise online gambling after Sikkim and Nagaland, although Meghalaya has broken new ground by also legalising sports betting and games of chance such as baccarat, and permitting customers outside the state to access the products.

In regard to online gaming regulation, Sangma told the conference that three companies have been issued provisional licences, although he did not name them.

The AIGF conference this week is also notable for platforming the state’s chief minister, Conrad Sangma, who delivered the inaugural address, and Sarika Aggarwal Synrem, the commissioner and government secretary responsible for drafting the gaming law.

James Sangma is also due to speak at the ICE conference in London next week.

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