Offshore casinos relocation is uncertain

Due to budgetary issues, Goa’s government is considering to allow offshore casinos to continue their operations.

India.- The state cabinet of the Goa government proposed to increase the entry fee of offshore vessels in the state budget. This initiative suggests that the decision on the possible relocation of Goa’s offshore casinos, which is still pending, may be reconsidered due to budgetary issues. The four offshore casinos located in the Mandovi river are: Motor Vessel (MV) Pride of Goa or Casino Pride, MV Horseshoe (Deltin Royale Casino) and MV Boa Sorte (Casino Pride 2), MV Casino Royale (Deltin JAQK.)

Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar was evasive when The Indian Express asked him about the government’s course of action. “What’s the hurry, wait till the end of this month, things will be clear after cabinet decision,” he said. Parsekar also wrote a letter to the assembly that reads: “Just note that only the license fee runs up to lakhs, besides, there are taxes, VAT, entry fee and other components which are too huge to be ignored by a state that has been highly affected by the mediocre tourist turnout in recent years and near-dead mining activity.”

On the other hand, activists, who are against the offshore casinos, had threatened to protest against the government if they do not stick to their earlier commitment.

Back in September, the Parsekar-led cabinet allowed offshore casinos to continue operations for another seven months, despite angry protests by locals in Panjim and surrounding areas. Since then, Parsekar stated that either the casinos will be relocated by March 31 or will be moved to a location suggested by the state government. Now the self-imposed deadline is coming to an end and activists claim neither of the two seems to happen.

“The government claims that casinos are needed to generate local employment and it adds as a tourist attraction, but the tall claims are nothing but a farce, said Sabina Martin from Aam Auraat Aaadmi Against Gambling (AAAAG). “On the contrary, their entry has increased the rate of crime, drunken rage and rise of escort services in the area. But the government seems to be indifferent to the local issues and bothered only about minting money.”