The process to re-locate Goa’s five floating casinos has been under process for a number of years but no progress has been made so far as the five offshore casinos continue to operate on the River Mandovi.
The ruling BJP government recently announced that it was extending a 3 month re-location period to the casinos in yet another attempt to give them time to find smoother waters for re-location. The offshore casinos have tried in the past to re-locate to different waters but were unable to successfully do so as they found the waters turbulent and were unable to carry out business as usual.
The issue has been a hot topic for the BJP government and opposition parties who do not want the floating casinos to remain on the River Mandovi as there have been allegations of pollution and also fostering an environment promoting gambling and partying – which a number of religious groups have opposed along with the Congress National Party.
Sixth License Approved
The five offshore operators are Delta Pleasure Cruise Company, Delta Corp, Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment, Goa Coastal Resorts and Recreation and Golden Peace Infrastructure. Opposition parties against these offshore casinos are also upset over a recent Bombay High Court ruling which has approved the offshore license for a sixth casino, the MV Lucky Seven to also operate on the River Mandovi – which will only add to the crowd.
Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd will operate the MV Lucky Seven and can launch operations as soon as it gets the green light from the Captain of Ports once he is satisfied that the operator had conformed to the mandatory requirements.
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar had promised to re-locate these offshore casinos but only after an alternative site was confirmed as the offshore casino industry provided thousands of jobs to the local population, boosted tourism in the state and also generated a significant amount of gaming taxes for the government. Some of the alternative sites identified for the re-location of these offshore casinos include the Chapora, Zuari and Sal rivers as well as Aguada bay.
The BJP government has faced criticism of showing favoritism to the powerful casino industry and hedging on its promises after it won the election. The five offshore casino operators had time till June 30 to find a new home but since no relocation site was finalized, they now have an extension till Sep 30. The opposition wants the state government to do more and impose more pressure on the casino operators as it is highly likely that the re-location deadline will once again be extended post Sep 30.