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Maharashtra House approves Bill to ban casinos, citing them as incompatible with state culture

Maharashtra House approves Bill to ban casinos

The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, enacted in 1976, has remained dormant without enforcement. Since its inception, various groups have sought court permission to establish casinos in the state. In August of this year, the state cabinet opted to revoke the act.

On Friday, the state legislative assembly passed a Bill to annul the 45-year-old Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976, effectively prohibiting the establishment of casinos in the state going forward.

Secured majority approval

The Bill, presented by the home department under the leadership of Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was introduced in the assembly and secured majority approval. Consequently, the functioning of casinos within the state will be rendered impossible.

Emphasizing that casinos are incompatible with Maharashtra’s cultural ethos, Fadnavis remarked, “The repeal of the 1976 Act aims to put an end to the presence of casinos in Maharashtra. This bill serves as a permanent revocation of the Maharashtra Casino Act. I consistently advocated against allowing any casinos in the state. Despite the 1976 law, individuals have frequently resorted to legal avenues seeking permission. This trend persisted in 2016 during my tenure as Chief Minister, and again in January 2023. With the future generation of the state in mind, such a decision was made in the cabinet, and today, the assembly has approved this bill.”

The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, enforced since 1976, remained dormant without actual implementation. Throughout this period, entities eager to establish casinos in the state consistently approached the courts seeking permission. In August of the current year, the state cabinet opted to annul this legislation.

Simultaneously, the lower house approved a chit fund Bill and an amendment Bill in the assembly. These measures aim to categorize online gaming, betting, casinos, horse racing, and lottery under the highest GST bracket of 28 per cent.

During the current winter session of the state legislature, deliberations on amending the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, took place, and the lower house has approved it. The next step involves the bill proceeding to the Legislative Council for voting and approval.

The proposed changes entail the inclusion of a new set of services in the highest GST bracket. Once this amendment becomes law, it will open up a fresh source of revenue for the state.

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