14 May 2012 Jonas Lemberg

Goa government likely to introduce amendments by year end to phase out casinos

Exclusive In response to a petition filed by the Aam Aurat Aadmi Against Gambling (AAAAG) to impose stricter regulations on casinos and eventually phase out casinos, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is said to have assured civil society activists that he is actively working on measures to discourage the casino industry and possibly even phase out offshore casinos in a few years.

It is learnt from civil society activists who attended the meeting with Parrikar that the Chief Minister responded positively to the demands of AAAAG and told them that he was actively considering bringing amendments to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976 to curb the influence of casinos. It is understood that any amendments or new legislations can only be brought in after July when the Goa legislative assembly commences its monsoon session.

Chief Minister Parrikar reportedly demanded more time to finalise the process and manner of curbing the casino industry and assured action on the matter soon.

Some of the expected amendments in the Gaming Act could include limiting the entry to casinos to non-residents of the state above 21 years of age and pushing the casinos outside the territorial waters of the Goa, both these plans have been suggested by Parrikar when he was the Leader of Opposition. The vessels housing casinos currently admit all individuals above 21 years of age and are parked in the Mandovi River.

While it is highly unlikely that the casinos would be banned immediately, one may expect a long-term plan from Parrikar to limit the influence of casinos and eventually phase out the casinos by not renewing their licenses. It may be noted that Parrikar has been a vocal critic of the casino industry and has even demanded the closure of offshore casinos in the past. As evident from the hike in casino taxes and license fees, one may expect further regulations curtailing the casino industry very soon.

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