Casino vessels moored off the shores of Goa are on the verge of sinking, as a result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden demonetization announcement. The cash crunch has caused punters to be wary of gambling and has forced casinos to temporarily shut shop.
A casino employee lamented that ever since the announcement was made; business was at its lowest and has continued to stagnate in this state for the past three weeks. The employee also added that during the initial days of demonetization, senior management allowed payments in the demonetized currency. However, currently that decision has been rolled back. Several off-shore casino employees also revealed that discussions about rationalization of staff strength had already started.
In a statement, a member of the casino’s staff said “As the crux of the operations is based on exchange of currency in cash, there are not many customers now. Also, there is a shortage of 100 notes and even if one has a 2000 note, we are facing a problem in giving change.”
The management of Casino Pride confirmed that the casino’s operations were shut temporarily as customers did not have sufficient cash following the demonetization news. Initially, casinos in Goa went out of service for 2-3 days after the announcement, however, business improved slightly after the 2000 note was introduced. But, a fresh problem surfaced as casinos were finding it difficult to supply change for the new bill.
Goa’s Casinos, earn one-third of the state’s total entertainment tax, and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, whose government depends on this source of revenue admitted that the casinos would take a hit due to the demonetization decision; nonetheless, he allayed the fears of casino operators against the government’s move.
The onshore and offshore casinos generated 127 crores for the financial year 2015-16, according to records from the commissioner of commercial taxes. A definite increase in these figures was projected for this year, as the entry ticket fare was also revised from Rs 700 to 1000.
A number of sources in the industry acknowledged that there has been a substantial drop in revenue, but they also hope that December would bring normalcy to the situation as there would be a fresh surge of tourists due to the Yule season. Apart from this, Goa’s bold move to become the first cashless state on the subcontinent by the end of the year also gives operators a glimmer of hope.