Offshore casino vessels presently docked in River Mandovi of Chorao island are facing heat of the locals who are opposing such casinos. As per media reports, anti-casino groups have demanded that the government shift casino Caravela away from the Chorao island in River Mandovi within 15 days. The protesters were headed by independent legislator Rohan Khaunte, Congress MLA Pandurang Madkaikar and social activist Aires Rodrigues. They are also protesting against anchoring of an offshore casino vessels in river Mandovi.
Reacting to this protest, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said that at the time when the central government has been soliciting investments in India, casinos in the state cannot be shut down. He advocated for a policy that does not increase casinos in Goa but one that raises tariffs to deter the common man from visiting them. Because of an increase in tariffs, there has been a decrease in onshore casinos in the state.
He has also clarified that his government is not responsible for addition of any new casino in the state and for removal of existing casinos form the state due procedure has to be followed. He refused to take any haste or knee jerk actions based upon the protests from various stakeholders. He also informed that the Captain of Ports has already been directed to identify an alternative location for the offshore casinos.
The central government has been organising many summits to attract investors to India and those who have already invested in the state cannot be asked to leave abruptly. This may force the casino owners to approach the courts and obtain a stay order. Parsekar alleged that political opponents are creating issue over casinos as a ‘poll gimmick’ in Goa ahead of next year’s Assembly election.
The chief minister also expressed a desire to appoint a gaming commission as soon as possible and said that a file in this regard is already in circulation. The proposed gaming commission would regulate and monitor the casino industry in Goa. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) welcomes this step to establish gaming commission as that would go a long way in ensuring regulation of gaming industry in the state in a legal manner. At the same time the gaming commission could also take a call regarding online games like online rummy, online poker, online fantasy sports, etc.