Goa Ports Minister Michael Lobo while interacting with the press indicated that the long-pending Casino Policy of the state, that envisages shifting of the offshore casinos to a land zone near the upcoming Mopa airport, will not see the light of the day anytime soon.
Lobo stated that the top priority of the state government for the moment is resumption of iron ore mining in the state, which was abruptly stopped in March 2018 after the Supreme Court quashed all licenses issued by the state government.
The state government’s review petition in the Supreme Court on the mining issue is still pending while the state is also simultaneously lobbying with the central government to get appropriate amendments in the central Mines legislation.
The state minister noted that lakhs of people’s livelihood in Goa depends on mining and hence it would send a wrong message if the Chief Minister tries to bring in a Casino Policy before the mining issue is resolved.
When asked about the proposal to shift offshore casinos to land, the Minister said that it was a decision taken by former CM Manohar Parrikar. “Casino owners had agreed to the proposal but suggested that they should be given time and be allowed to have live gaming. The same was agreed by the then CM, who had said that soon we will come out with the Land Casino Policy for the State of Goa,” he said.
Lobo said that the policy is also pending and the same will be taken up by the chief minister shortly. He added that once the policy comes up, the offshore casinos will be shifted in phased manner.
The Ports Minister added that the decision to streamline casino industry is important as it is part of the Goa’s tourism industry.
Lobo has strongly backed the casino industry in the state as it is linked to investment by several companies and the tourism industry in the state. In October 2019 also, Lobo had remarked that casinos are an important part of tourism of Goa and cannot be removed overnight.