The Maharashtra state government was expected to make a decision before the end of May on whether it would legalize the casino industry but no decision has been made as of now. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has continued its push for the legalization of casinos in the state on the basis that it would provide a significant boost to the tourism industry.
The MTDC recently informed the state government that should land based casinos be legalized the government could expect to earn around $277.78 million on an annual basis. Currently only Goa, Sikkim and Daman allow casino gambling and draw gamblers from all over India. Should Maharashtra decided to legalize the industry, it could end up outperforming all the three states as Maharashtra has a bigger population and draws large numbers of both international and domestic tourists.
The MTDC estimates that out of the total $277.78 million, twenty five percent will be generated in the form of gaming taxes. An official from Mantralaya estimates that 18 million domestic tourists and 7.5 million foreign tourists visit Maharashtra each year. The casinos are expected to increase the number of tourists and their spending patterns.
In a statement, a government official who preferred to be anonymous said “If on-shore casinos are allowed as recreational facilities along the Konkan beaches, including Mumbai, and if 40% of foreign tourists and 25% of domestic tourists visit these places, the industry can get an annual turnover of roughly Rs 6,000 crore ($1.11 billion).”
The state government has to confirm whether it will permit only on-shore casinos or be willing to allow both on-shore and off-shore casinos. The Bombay High Court had given the state government until April 2016 to make a decision on the legalization of casinos but the state government appears to be in no rush.
The state government and MTDC have also discussed the issues surrounding the gambling industry including security, licensing, revenue generation and the overall impact it would have on the community. Religious and opposition political parties are currently against the legalization of the gambling in Maharashtra as they believe the casino industry would cause more harm than good.
There are a number of underground gambling dens all over Maharashtra who run profitable gambling operations and have an exclusive and rich VIP clientele that come to these games via invitation only. The legalization of the casino industry will bring a halt to the majority of these underground gambling dens.