meeting of all stakeholders and revenue departments is being called at the end of this month to reach a decision on legalizing casinos by notifying the act.
The State home department is studying gaming and casino laws applicable in Goa and Sikkim, including tax issues involved, before a final deliberation to decide on notifying the pending Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976. The draft bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly and published in July, 1976, but hasn’t been notified since.
Following a petition challenging the government delay, the Bombay High Court had directed the government to not only notify the pending legislation but also identify locations across the state, which could be developed as casino hotspots.
“The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976, is a landmark legislation, which is likely to earn the government a handsome revenue considering the gambling market in India is estimated to be $60 billion,” said lawyer Jay Sayata, who has filed a PIL on the issue of pending casino legislation in the High Court.
A suo motu cognizance of the PIL was taken by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), whose Managing Director, Parag Jain, has now written a letter to the home department stating that allowing casinos would have a positive impact on tourism and therefore the proposal should be considered favourably.
“Maharashtra is the den of illegal gambling”, remarked Sayata. “If the taxation on gaming is legalized, it could earn good revenue for State.” Sources in the home department said a directive from the Chief Minister has been given to speed up the notification process.
It is expected that legalizing betting could help the State control betting in sports and other activities, which is currently governed by the archaic Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.