Jay Sayta Files PIL to Enforce Long-Pending Maharashtra Casinos Act

24 March 2015

New Delhi, February 25, 2015:

Even 38 years after the Maharashtra legislative assembly passed a landmark and far-sighted legislation, i.e. Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act(Act No. XXXI of 1976), which legalised casinos, gaming and wagering, the Maharashtra government has failed in its constitutional and legal duty to notify and implement the Act. Jay Sayta, a final year NUJS student, represented by M/s Hariani & Co. has raised this important constitutional question at the Bombay High Court by filing a PIL, of whether or not the state government should apply its mind in legalising gambling in right earnest.

Jay explains, “The fact of executive government not notifying legislation is a constitutional conundrum and a case of executive inaction of more than 38 years has not come up before the courts before. It is the duty of the High Courts and Supreme Court to consider cases of non-application of mind and inaction of the government and pass appropriate directions in case the government acts against the letter and spirit of the constitution. When I discussed this with Anirudh Hariani, he also felt that this issue needed a firm decision, and that it could not be kept in limbo.”

Various expert bodies and jurists have suggested the economic benefits of legalising gambling and betting, the government has not taken any initiative to enforce the will of the people, as apparent through the Maharastra Casinos Act. For instance, FICCI estimates the annual revenues to the government from legalising sports betting in india to be at least INR 19,000 crores. Jay further adds, “Enforcement of the Casinos Act will help eliminate the financial woes of the government as the government will raise thousands of crores in revenues. Further, citizens will not suffer criminal action for an acceptable form of recreation and a legitimate avenue of entertainment.”

The enforcement of this legislation will also ensure that match-fixing and cheating in sport can be curbed by allowing government agencies to monitor betting patterns and take action against suspicious betting patterns.

About the Maharashtra Casinos Act

The Maharashtra Casino Act was passed in the legislative assembly and assented by the Governor on 19thJuly, 1976 after much discussion and deliberation in the house. The statement of objects and reasons of the Casino Act indicates that legalising gambling was desirable for the purpose of promoting tourism and increasing revenues to the exchequer. The Act provides for licensing of casino games in public places on payment of such license fees as may be prescribed. The Act defines casino games to include all games of betting or wagering including games of chance played by means of machine or instruments making it possible to regulate both online and offline gaming. The Act also provides for a reasonable rate of taxation not exceeding twenty-five per cent to be imposed on license holders and allows the state to frame rules to regulate gambling advertisements, prevent underage gambling and impose other restrictions as may be necessary.



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