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Uncertain Future For Goa Casinos With March 31 Deadline Looming
February 19, 2017, 13:49:52
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While Goa is in the grip of an intense election war, casinos in the state face an uncertain future with the March 31, 2017 deadline for shifting out of the River Mandovi looming.

Ruling party BJP had given the operators this extended deadline last year, but enquiries reveal that the final outcome will now lie with whichever new government inherits power. Practically every party has been promising to eradicate so-called ‘casino culture’ in order to garner votes and what happens next to the casinos is a big question mark.


BJP Support

Despite promising to remove casinos in its 2012 election manifesto, the BJP did a u-turn and later defended these as revenue-bringers for the state. In fact, the party went on to give the offshore casinos extended deadlines, until March 31, this year to move out of the River Mandovi.

Despite identifying alternate sites such as the Rivers Zuari, Sal, Chapora and Aguada Bay for the casinos, the government was unable to go ahead with the move due to various objections from localites, NGOs and environmental activists.

In fact in July 2016, Laxmikant Parsekar, Chief Minister, Goa declared that, “Since the existing casino vessels have all the required permissions, we cannot abruptly close them down or ask them to move out of Mandovi. We have to give them alternative site. If not, then they can drag us to court, further delaying the entire shifting process,” clearly indicating the party’s stand towards the casino industry.

Parsekar has also clearly acknowledged the money brought in by the casino industry several times.

However, in a bid to placate objectors, the government also declared that new rules would be formed to ban locals from casinos and prepared a draft for gaming rules, with a gaming commissioner to ensure correct implementation. This was based on the Macau gaming rules model and is currently with the Advocate General’s office for approval.


Uncertain Fate For Casinos

Besides facing constant flak from all sides, the major issue for the casinos is the upcoming deadline of March 31. If the BJP comes into power, at least the industry can expect some sort of relief. But the problem will be if any other party comes to power.

As has been evidenced in the past many months, all opposition parties from the Congress to Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) to newcomer Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have loudly decried casinos. It remains to be seen if these parties will keep their promises of removing casinos or change their tune, just as the BJP after gaining power.


Casinos Affected

The March 31 deadline applies to all the four offshore vessels, Deltin Royale, Deltin JAQK, Casino Pride II MV Pride and Deltin JAQK, as well as to the recently added fifth vessel, MV Royal Floatel, which faced immense pressure to move away from near the protected Dr. Salim Ali bird sanctuary where it was anchored.

Written by: Shyamala Gauri

Related Articles:

1. Goa Casinos to be Monitored by IT Department During Upcoming Elections

2. Goa Casino Industry Reels Under Political-Attacks, Demonetization, Delta Corp Profits Fall

3. Arvind Kejriwal Accuses Goa Casinos of Cheating Government of INR 4,000 Crores in Taxes

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