Goa Chief Minister Renews Call To Ban Locals And Close Offshore Casinos

The BJP led government in Goa is taking steps to officially bar Goans from entering casinos. The message was made public by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant during the legislative assembly where he pointed out that gambling establishments in the state should be for tourists alone.

The chief minister said the order will take effect after a series of consultations with lawmakers happen which will allow them to set a date for the implementation of the new directive. Both the ruling BJP party and the opposition have been clamoring for the ban, pointing out that Goan families were suffering from gambling related ills.

Offshore Casinos To Be Closed

Atanasio Monserrate, representative of the state capital of Panaji is staunchly against legalized gambling. In his election campaign, Monserrate vowed to have all floating casinos along the Mandovi River shuttered within 100 days of assuming office. Panaji hosts all six of Goa’s offshore casinos. The legislator estimates that once Goans are banned from local casinos, gambling profits will go down by almost 50 percent.

On the other side of the political aisle, opposition lawmaker Churchill Alemão claims Goan casinos have been cheating their clientele, citing records of suspiciously low spending to earnings ratios. Alemão further said that gamblers are better off betting in Singapore or Macau if they want to rake in higher winnings.

The campaign to move offshore casinos from the River Mandovi has been going on for years but this time around it looks like it could be the end for these floating casinos. The Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) also issued a statement confirming that it will not renew the licenses of these 6 offshore casinos once it comes up for renewal in April 2020.

Will The Government Make Good On Its Threat?

Sawant is not the country’s first chief minister to announce plans of prohibiting locals from entering the casinos. He is also not the first chief minister to push for the removal of offshore casinos from the River Mandovi.

The late CM Manohar Parrikar campaigned for both these initiatives but never made good on those threats during his tenure. Goa’s fledgling gambling industry, though not a main lure for most tourists, generates around 5 percent of the state’s annual revenue, contributing around 7500 crore rupees on a yearly basis.

Goa’s first offshore gambling establishment was launched in 1999. The two-decade industry now has six floating casinos anchored along the stretch of the Mandovi river. It’s estimated that each casino attracts around 600 to 800 gamblers every weekend, with an annual earnings that go as high as 120 crore rupees.

The government will lose out on a lot of revenue if it decides to proceed with these two steps and hence it could be another stalling tactic to pacify religious and anti-gambling groups in Goa.