Goa’s chief minister Pramod Sawant has confirmed that the state’s new casino policy and Gaming Commission are in the final stages of consideration.
“Both the issues need time and cannot be decided arbitrarily,” he said.
Sawant declined to indicate when the new legislation might be introduced, but said that Goa’s six offshore casinos could be moved to a designated area after the law is passed.
He added that the idea of closing down the casinos, as proposed by anti-gambling lobbyists has been discounted.
In May, Bhartiya Janta Party president Vinay Tendulkar argued that all of the offshore casinos should be shut down after their licences expire. The politician, who is also a member of the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house, added, “The party demands that offshore casinos should be shut. If people don’t want onshore casinos, which function from five-star hotels, they too will be closed.”
The death of Goa’s previous chief minister Manohar Parrikar in mid-March effectively left plans to create a gaming regulator and create a new land-based entertainment zone up in the air.
Even prior to this, the state’s tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar had told the legislative assembly in late January that the government’s draft tourism master plan did not envision the expansion of gambling operations this year.
Currently casinos in Goa are only allowed to operate in five-star hotels – which are limited to offering electronic gaming machines – and the casino vessels on the Mandovi river.