The casino industry has turned out to be a blessing and a curse for the ruling BJP Government. On the positive side, Goa is one of the three states in India to allow gambling and the casino industry has flourished in the state which is a tourist haven. The casino industry not only boosts tourism for the state but also creates hundreds of jobs for the locals.
The state government also earns handsomely from gaming taxes as Goa has both land based and offshore casinos. However due to opposition from religious and political parties, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has been forced to tighten regulations on the casino industry.
Offshore Casinos Continue To Pose Challenges
The Indian National Congress party has targeted the BJP for allowing offshore casinos to operate on the River Mandovi. Parrikar had asked the 5 offshore casinos to relocate in the past but the move was unsuccessful as the casino operators had difficulty navigating turbulent waters and were once again allowed to operate on the River Mandovi.
The BJP government recently approved a 6th offshore casino license and it caused a lot of controversy after the vessel MV Lucky 7 hit a sandbank on the River Mandovi and had to be rescued by the coast guard. The chaos and additional publicity caused Parrikar to issue a statement which now prevents MV Lucky 7 from entering the River Mandovi.
KPMG To Finalize SEZ
Parrikar has also stated that his government is currently working on new gaming amendments that will see the creation of a special entertainment zone (SEZ). KPMG has been hired to finalize a location where the SEZ can be created and once this is done, all offshore casinos will be shifted to the special zone. The move is expected to be completed within the next 3 years.
Chief Minister Parrikar has also stated that his government will continue to work on gaming amendments that will ban locals from entering the casinos. The BJP government has also confirmed that it will not issue any more new casino licenses for offshore or land based casinos.
This is not the first time that Parrikar has promised to ban locals from the casinos and to also relocate the offshore casinos but so far no concrete action has been taken. As a result, opposition parties have accused Parrikar of once again lying to the public and don’t believe that he will make good on his promises concerning the casino industry.