Shillong: Meghalaya Minister in-charge of Revenue & Disaster Management Department, Kyrmen Shylla has asserted that the State government can explore the possibility of legalising fishing competitions in the state for revenue.
The minister, however, said that he considers fishing a hobby and that it cannot be considered gambling.
“Personally, I would not term fishing competitions that are held in the state as gambling. Yes, there is huge prize money in fishing competitions. The Deputy Commissioner can check the possibilities of whether the government can generate revenue from fishing competitions,” Shylla said.
He said Meghalaya has different local sports like teer, which has been legalised. “The state government is presently generating revenue from teer,” he added.
“Similarly huge amount of money is also spent on fishing competitions. People from different villages come together to participate and win cash prizes,” the minister said.
In 2022, the highest prize money for the competition was Rs 5 lakh. However, participants have to pay a registration fee to take part in the competition.
If fishing is taken up as a gambling activity, it can be taxed and brought under the ambit of law if the government considers doing so, he said.
“Whenever people are organising fishing competitions, they are earning. I don’t think that the individuals and groups who are organising these competitions will have a problem contributing to the state exchequer in the form of taxes if it has to be legalised. So once brought under the purview of the law, they can be taxed,” Shylla said.
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“As organisers include ‘lucky draw’ contest, maybe the fishing competition has been tagged as gambling. But fishing is a hobby for many and even the older generations love to take part in such competitions. If the organisers, through the means of competitions, are earning revenue, they should also contribute to the state,” he said
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