10 Jul 2016 Jonas Lemberg

Puducherry government officials to visit Goa to study casinos, cabinet may give final nod soon

Malladi Rao

Just days after Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy in an interview mooted the idea of permitting offshore casinos in the pristine Union Territory, Malladi Krishna Rao, the Health & Tourism Minister of the region confirmed the proposal and noted that the cabinet had already held initial discussions on the issue.

Speaking to The Hindu , Rao, noted: “The Cabinet has held discussions on the proposal to start off-shore casinos modelled on the ones in Goa. We are exploring the options to allow them in Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The casinos would be primarily aimed at domestic and international tourists visiting the Union Territory.”

The Hindu report further indicates that a delegation led by Rao is likely to visit Goa soon to study the modus operandi of casinos there. A final plan is then likely to be submitted to the cabinet for approval and implementation.

The poor performance of the hospitality industry in Puducherry is the reason for the government’s reason for introducing the plan to open up gaming and casinos. Currently, the occupancy rate in hotels in the Union Territory is only around 32 per cent.

If the plan goes through, Puducherry will become the first region in Southern India to allow casinos. A significant number of residents in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala may start visiting Puducherry instead of Sri Lanka or Goa to gamble. Although things are moving fast in the region and implementation may be swift because of the relatively small size of the Union Territory and absence of a strong opposition, a final decision may still take a few months.

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