Maharashtra considering allowing offshore casinos

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation backs the legalisation.

In the next few days, the government is to discuss whether or not to legalise offshore casinos in Maharashtra.

India.-  The Maharashtra government is expected to decide whether or not to legalise casinos in the state. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) supports the proposal, arguing that it would provide a big boost to tourism.

The MTDC has suggested the state to allow offshore casinos, as these facilities would operate from a yacht off the coast and the entry would be limited to foreign tourists. In the event the venture turns out to be successful, the government may consider allowing Indians to play in the future. Furthermore, MTDC wants the casinos to be operated exclusively by the government for the first couple of years, before private players are allowed in the sector.

Maharashtra already has a law on casinos, the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976, although the rules were not framed and the act was not notified, or made operational. Back in October, the Bombay High Court, called on the government to take a stand on the issue. The MTDC proposal comes in the context of this petition.

It has transpired that a few top government officials and ministers in the state, may be in favour of the offshore casinos idea. However, any move to enable casinos would not be smooth, as opposition within the ruling BJP party and from ally Shiv Sena is expected.