While Karnataka tourism minister had proposed opening up the state to casino gambling in order to boost visitation, he was later forced to retract his remarks following political pressure and public criticism.
In mid-February, Karnataka tourism minister C.T. Ravi suggested establishing 15 ‘casino centres’ across the state, including six in the capital Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), three each in Mangaluru and Belagavi, and one each in three other cities.
Ravi suggested casinos would help increase tourism to the state by attracting gamblers who currently go to casinos in Goa, on Karnataka’s northwestern border, or farther afield to Sri Lanka and Singapore.
He added that Karnataka needed “to learn from cities like Las Vegas to attract and entertain tourists.”
“The department will soon place the proposal before the government. Once it is cleared, the destination [for the casinos]…will be finalised,” he stated.
However, following a backlash from the public, the media, and members of his own government, Ravi moved to clarify that his statements “only expressed my opinion on how other countries promoted tourism”.
“Casino tourism is one such thing. I have no intention of developing it here,” he emphasised.
Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs J.C. Madhuswamy stressed that Ravi’s proposal “was not the government’s statement”.