The floating casinos of Goa have been given yet another six-month extension allowing them to operate – or at least stay – on the Mandovi River until September 30.
Wednesday’s decision from the Goa state government is just the latest extension granted to the casinos in a saga that has gone on for nearly a decade.
The government has been trying to find alternative waterway locations for the river casinos for many years, but each proposal has met with opposition from residents.
Alternative plans to bring the casinos onshore have never been properly outlined and are also likely to be resisted, leaving the river casinos industry in a perpetual state of uncertainty.
The latest extension looks to fly in the face of promises made last October when the City of Panaji announced it would not renew the floating businesses’ licenses again. Although there has been no official reaction yet from the City, Panaji MLA Antanasio Monserrate said he would carry on pressing for the casinos’ relocation. Protests at government inaction on moving the casinos have occurred before.
The fact Goa, like the rest of India, is currently under the coronavirus shutdown may have played a part in the decision to extend the licenses. Some casinos are hosting foreign nationals stuck in the country as a result of border closures. And others have been bolstering their reputations by donating cash and food to support pandemic relief efforts, according to reports at Calvin Ayre.
Goa is one of only three Indian states that permit casinos. The few land-based Goa casinos are in upscale hotels, but several operate offshore.
Daman and Sikkim are the other states to allow casinos. However, many Indians choose to gamble online with operators based outside the country and, therefore, not bound to abide by strict Indian gambling law.