Goa is one of the three states in India that has legalized casino gaming and also holds the record for having the most number of casinos and bringing in the highest gambling revenue in the country. The current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has come under a great deal of criticism from both the opposition party as well as members from its own government due to the fact that it has continued to allow the casino industry to operate.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar recently announced that his government will name a Gaming Commissioner within the next two weeks. The commissioner will be responsible for overseeing the casino industry in the state but will not have the power to decide the location of each casino.
The government drew more flak this month after it decided to allow the MV Royal Flotel Deltin Caravela casino to anchor on the River Mandovi. Locals have protested in the past and forced the government to order all floating casinos on the River Mandovi to look for new waters. Once again local and political groups threatened to hold protests and the government quickly made a decision to move the Caravela casino to Ribandar.
The government has proposed a number of amendments to its gaming law which are currently being reviewed. Should the new gaming law be implemented in Goa, locals will no longer be allowed into casinos, the entry fee will be raised from 700 rupees to 1,000 rupees, all visitors entering the casino will have to produce a photo identity to gain access and the casino will be responsible for saving and archiving video images of all patrons for a 30 day period. The Gaming Commissioner will have to ensure that all eighteen casinos in Goa strictly comply with these new amendments.
Opposition parties in the state have not been convinced with the proposed gaming amendments nor the appointment of a Gaming Commissioner as they believe the casino industry is causing more harm than good to the local community.
In a statement, Durgadas Kamat, Goa Forward party secretary said “BJP government which promised that casinos would be removed from Mandovi has failed totally on its promise. They are permitting casinos of monstrous proportions in the lifeline of Goa. BJP is fooling the people of Goa by saying that they have reduced the number of casinos. Actually, BJP has done just the reverse and today Panaji looks as the capital of casinos.”
However Parsekar highlighted the fact that it was the previous government who permitted land based casinos and his government only renewed the licenses of these casino operators. Parsekar also confirmed that his government was continuing to look for a possible site to re-locate Goa’s floating casinos from the Mandovi River.