The BJP led Goa government has received a lot of flak from opposition parties and the local community for continuing to encourage and further the state’s casino industry. The government recently extended the licenses of four offshore casinos, one of which is the MV Royal Flotel Deltin Caravel which operates on the River Mandovi.
Local communities threatened to carry out yet another protest if the offshore casino wasn’t relocated from the River Mandovi. The government yielded to the pressure and final relocated the vessel to Ribandar. Laxmikant Parsekar, the Chief Minister of Goa also confirmed that his government would appoint a Gambling Commissioner within the next two weeks.
The commissioner will be responsible for regulating both offshore and onshore casinos in the state and making sure that all casinos comply with the new gaming law amendments. The government has decided to implement a number of changes to the existing gaming law in an effort to curb the influence of the casinos on the local population.
The new gaming laws will prevent locals from entering the casinos and raise the entrance fee from 700 INR to 1,000 INR. All guests entering the casino will now have to produce a photo ID card and also be prepared to have their video recordings stored on file for a period of 30 days. The casinos will also make sure that individuals who are 18 years and over will be allowed to enter the casinos.
The appointment of a gaming commissioner and amendments to the gaming law are steps taken by the state government to try and silence the opposition that is coming from different fronts.
In a statement, Durgadas Kamat, Goa Forward party secretary said “BJP government which promised that casinos would be removed from Mandovi has failed totally on its promise. They are permitting casinos of monstrous proportions in the lifeline of Goa. BJP is fooling the people of Goa by saying that they have reduced the number of casinos. Actually, BJP has done just the reverse and today Panaji looks as the capital of casinos.”
Parsekar has lashed out at his critics stating that his government was not responsible of approving any new casino licenses but only renewed existing licenses that the earlier government had approved.
The new gaming commissioner will have a tough task on their hands as they will have to regulate the industry and take tough decisions. However the government has not given the commissioner the power to decide on the location of these casinos.