There was positive news for the casino industry in India on Wednesday with the announcement that casinos in Goa and Sikkim have been given the green light to restart operations on November 1.
In Goa, chief minister Pramod Sawant said: "From November 1, we have given the casinos permissions to start. They will have to follow all the SOPs as will be issued to them by the Home Department and with 50% capacity they can start. We need to promote tourism activity."
In a further boost to the six offshore casinos and those located inside five-star hotels in the state, Sawant said casino operators could pay the annual fees on a monthly basis, rather than in a single go.
The Goa casinos remain a source of controversy in the state but, as well as being a big draw for tourists, they contribute around Rs. 300 Crores in licence fees and a further Rs. 90 Crores in GST each year to state coffers. Government revenue has been severely hit as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delta Corp Ltd shares rose 4% in trading after the company confirmed its Sikkim casino would welcome visitors back on November 1 too. India's only listed company in the casino industry runs casinos in Goa and Sikkim with around 1,800 gaming positions. It recently took a stake in a shipyard making casino vessels.
Earlier this month, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) made a request to the government to reopen casinos in the state. It appears the lobbying was successful.
The long-term future of casinos in Goa remains precarious. The controversial casinos on the River Mandovi were given another six-month extension to operate back in September as arguments about relocating them rumble on.