It’s Final! Maharashtra LA Repealed Casinos Act, 1976

11 Dec 2023

The state of Maharashtra spent 47 years swinging to and fro between two alternatives: allowing casinos and regulating them or completely banning such entertainment venues on the state’s territory.

The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976, was never implemented but has been the cause of numerous controversies over the years on how to proceed.

Deputy CM Fadnavis: “Maha has No Place for Casino Culture”

With an anonymous vote on Friday, the 8th of December, 2023, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed the Maharashtra Casino (Control and Taxation) Bill which repealed the 1976 Act and caused Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to exclaim, “Maha has No Place for Casino Culture.”

Fadnavis, who had been among the major drivers of banning casinos in Maharashtra for good, had tabled the Bill on Thursday, the first day of the LA’s winter session for 2023.

“1976 Act repealed to prevent casinos from continuing in Maharashtra. This bill will permanently repeal the Maharashtra Casino Act. I had consistently taken a firm stand that no casino should be allowed in the state,” Deputy CM Fadnavis tweeted on Friday.

“The law, which has been in place since 1976, has seen people frequently go to court to seek its permission. Even in 2016 when I was the Chief Minister, and also in January 2023, the same role was presented on the file. Considering the youth generation of the state, we took such a decision in the cabinet and finally today this bill was approved in the assembly,” the tweet continued.

Maharashtra Joins Wave of State GST Act Amendments

On the same day, it repealed the 1976 Casinos Act, the lower house of Maharashtra legislature also amended the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 to become aligned with the recent changes in Central and Integrated GST Acts levying 28% over online games, casinos, horse races, and lottery.

“The operators or service providers used to find excuses to pay low taxes. Online gaming is not a ‘game of skills’ but a ‘game of chance’,” Maharashtra Finance Minister and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who had tabled the State GST Amendment Bill, told the Vidhan Sabha.

“The subcommittee appointed for the same has recommended 28 percent tax.” The GST Council has already taken a decision to bring these services under the tax ambit and there was need to bring more clarification on some issues,” Pawar added.

As many State Legislative Assemblies are entering their winter sessions, amendments to local GST Acts related to a28% levy over online gaming, casinos, and horse races were recently passed by Uttar PradeshWest Bengal, while Karnataka and Kerala are also moving in that direction.