Mumbai: The Maharashtra state cabinet headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Friday scrapped the near 45-year-old Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Taxes) Act, thereby closing doors on casinos in the state.
The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Taxes) ordinance was passed in 1976 but was never implemented. However, several attempts were made to seek permission for casinos under this ordinance, and periodically the tourism sector lobbied hard to allow gambling in the state. Some even approached courts in this regard.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has always been against the ordinance and directed the administration to repeal it in 2016 when high-level deliberations began on it. The issue lingered and came up again for discussion in 2023 when Fadnavis again gave a negative remark and accordingly the cabinet on Friday took a firm stand against casinos in the state and gave a nod to repeal the ordinance.
Going ahead, a bill will be prepared to repeal the ordinance to be tabled in the winter session of the state legislature, a senior CMO official said.
In Maharashtra, horse racing and lotteries are legal but betting activities are controlled under the outdated Prevention of Gambling Act 1887, which prohibits organising and running a gaming house. If found violating the law, the punishment of one to six months in jail and a nominal cash penalty of Rs200. However, illegal gambling activities like matka are conducted discreetly and sometimes indiscreetly across the state.
Cooperative Societies Act
On Friday, the state cabinet also withdrew the ordinance amending the Cooperative Societies Act to prevent inactive members in the housing societies from contesting elections, voting and nomination. Though the BJP had been insisting on the amendment, the NCP was opposed to it. The ordinance was brought in by the BJP in the last week of May this year. A bill, too, was brought in the recently concluded monsoon session of the state legislature. However, the treasury benches didn’t pursue it and the bill wasn’t cleared.
“A few petitions were filed in the courts against the ordinance. Also, a few contradictions in the ordinance came forth, which led the state cabinet to withdraw it,” a senior CMO official told the FPJ.
OTHER CABINET DECISIONS
All tribal hamlets in 17 districts will be linked to main roads under the Bhagwan Birsa Munda scheme. A total of 6,838km road network will be built to provide all-weather connectivity to tribals and help them access basic amenities.
Ration distribution at specially subsidised rates for Ganeshotsav and Diwali; 1kg rawa, chana dal, sugar and 1lt edible oil for Rs100 to over 1.65 crore ration card holders. Kits worth Rs239 will be distributed from Sept 19 and from Nov 12. Will cost the state exchequer Rs827.35 crore.
Stipend for ITI students to be increased from Rs40 to Rs500. To be given to SC, ST, NT, OBC, SEBC, minorities and EBC students whose annual family income is less than Rs8 lakh. Will cost the state Rs75.69 crore.
Redevelopment of Mumbai Press Club building at Fort.