Goa’s chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar is under pressure to find an alternative location for the state’s offshore casinos. Back in September 2015, the chief minister and his cabinet extended the time frame to find an alternate location for these off-shore casinos by seven months which is expected to expire at the end of March 2016.
Goa’s offshore casinos which include MV Casino Royale (Deltin JAQK), Motor Vessel (MV) Pride of Goa which is also known as the Casino Pride, MV Boa Sorte (Casino Pride 2) and MV Horseshoe (Deltin Royale Casino) have been accustomed to operating on the Mandovi river but have come under pressure after protests were lodged in Panjim due to the negative impact they were having on the community and the environment.
In a statement, Sabina Martin of Aam Auraat Aaadmi Against Gambling (AAAAG) said “The government claims that Casino are needed to generate local employment and it adds as a tourist attraction, but the tall claims are nothing but farce. On the contrary their entry has increased the rate of crime, drunken rage and rise of escort services in the area. But the government seems to be indifferent to the local issues and bothered only about minting money.”
The casinos were expected to move to a new location as suggested by the government or find an alternate location themselves. There are reports that the offshore casinos initially tried relocating far away from the river coast but had to quickly abandon the location as the waters were not calm and impacted casino operations.
The Goan government has stated that it has not yet managed to scout and find a suitable location for these off-shore casinos but stated that the process is expected to be completed before the stipulated deadline. The state government continues to be under a lot of pressure to ban these off-shore casinos but it is highly unlikely given the fact that the casino industry is estimated to generate around 100 crores each year.
Goa’s economy is currently struggling as tourism numbers have dropped and a ban on off-shore casinos will not only reduce the revenue generated but could also have a further impact on declining tourist numbers.
The state government has also confirmed that so far it is yet to receive any communication from the off-shore casinos and stated that a decision will be finalized once both parties reach an agreement on the location.