The Union Territory of Puducherry may be on the path to legalise and permit casinos in the region after three years of dithering and deliberations.
As per media reports, although the elected government headed by Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has almost made up its mind to allow casinos in the state for the purpose of promoting tourism, Lieutenant Governor (LG) Kiran Bedi has raised objections to the proposal saying that the government should keep the ‘wolf of gambling’ away from a spiritual and pristine Puducherry.
Bedi also stated that allowing casinos will impact the quality of domestic and international tourists besides causing social problems.
Narayanasamy however claimed that Bedi does not have any authority to decide on whether casinos should be allowed in the territory and added that various locations like Goa, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore have casinos to attract tourists.
He added that the LG is working with a revengeful attitude and that Puducherry is in severe need of funds and permission to allow lotteries, casinos and breweries would bolster the state exchequer.
The Chief Minister however noted that the legislative assembly will take a final decision on whether casinos and breweries will be allowed in the state or not.
Notably, the Puducherry government has been toying with the idea of allowing casinos within its territory since 2016. Narayansamy had indicated in July 2016 after assuming charge as CM that he was open to allowing offshore casinos in the UT for promoting tourism, on the lines of Goa.
State Health & Tourism Minister Malladi Krishna Rao had also stated that the cabinet had discussed the issue and was looking at permitting casinos in Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. A delegation of government officials from Puducherry had also proposed an official study tour to Goa to evaluate the model of allowing casinos.
Besides casinos, the Puducherry government is also likely to look at restarting sale of state lotteries within and outside the UT to augment revenues.