The casino industry is only legalized in Daman, Sikkim and Goa but that has not stopped other states like Kerala, Maharashtra and the bifurcated state of Andhra Pradesh from entertaining the possibility of passing an amendment that would legalize the casino industry. The state government has been considering the possibility of developing the Bhavani island near the Prakasam Barrage.
The island is located in the city of Vijayawada and has a number of sub-islands whose overall area spans 130 acres. The government had earlier contemplated the idea of turning the island into something similar to Sentosa Island in Singapore which spans 122 acres. Those plans have seen no progress over the last couple of years as the state government has other priority issues such as fixing the underground drainage in the state.
However, NRI (Non-resident Indian) Siva Prakash Bobba who was born in Vijayawada and is now settled in the United States has sent in proposal to develop a casino resort in the state. The Indian entrepreneur has a similar plan to the state government and is willing to make the investment if the government amends its gaming laws.
In a statement, Siva Prakash Bobba said “I find one of the islands in the river Krishna very much suitable for setting up a casino. I’m planning to propose it to the government. The plan is also in tune with the government’s grand design of creating a replica of Sentosa amusement park of Singapore here.”
However the director and chief consultant for the Andhra Pradesh Project Facilitators and Consultancy Services Limited (APPFCS) K. Lakshminarayana stated that the government had already received six other casino proposals during the last couple of years but has been unable to process them due to the fact that the government needs the approval of the Centre and also the Navy. A Goan casino operator and a Malaysian based casino developer are said to be amongst the six casino operators who have sent in a proposal.
While developing a casino island resort in the state of Andhra Pradesh will definitely increase tourism, create more jobs and bring in additional revenue for the state government, it is highly unlikely that the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act of 1974 will be amended as there are a number of political, religious and social groups who are opposed to the idea of legalizing casinos in the state.