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June 13, 2021

Exclusive interview with Jay Sayta, researcher in gambling laws and founder of GLaws.in

"Arguments against gambling legalization in Maharashtra don't stand up"

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is pushing a proposal that would legalize offshore casinos in Maharashtra, a state in the western region of India, stating that it would provide a big boost to tourism. We sat down with Jay Sayta, re
India | 05/04/2016

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is pushing a proposal that would legalize offshore casinos in Maharashtra, a state in the western region of India, stating that it would provide a big boost to tourism. We sat down with Jay Sayta, researcher in gambling laws and founder of Glaws.in, to discuss prospects for the future.

M

aharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC)'s new proposal would only allow for foreigners to gamble. But according to Sayta, “they have also requested that the state government -through the MTDC- operate those casinos.” Sayta believes that neither the government nor the MTDC have the expertise to operate casinos, for they have little experience in the field of gaming. “In the era of privatization, the state has no business in running commercial activities,” he says.

For Sayta, forbidding locals to gamble “does not make commercial sense whatsoever”. However, he thinks the government should only allow people who are above a certain income level to gamble. “The government has much more effective ways to prevent problem gambling than this one. When governments intervene in private businesses, they always run into losses. I believe the government should regulate the activity while allowing experienced, private companies to carry out the operations,” he comments.

Maharashtra has a law on casinos - the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976. However, the rules were not framed and the act was not notified, or made operational. In 2015, Sayta filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court to ask for the enforcement of the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976. 

“It's hypocritical of politicians to oppose gambling legalization. There are several reasons to legalize casinos in Maharashtra, and the arguments against gambling legalization don't stand up. It is high time lawmakers understand the importance of gambling legalization and do something about it.”

 

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