The state government of Goa has given a nod to open another onshore casino in the state. As per the sources of Times of India in the Home department of Goa, this will be the ninth licensed onshore casino in the state.
The said casino will occupy 300 square mt. in a five-star hotel at Kadamba plateau near Panjim, and it will have 29 tables and capacity of about 100 guests. Besides this, it will feature 17 electronic card games, five slot machines, four roulette tables and one slot machine.
There were a total of 11 on-shore casinos in Goa till the year 2018. Three on-shore Goa casinos went out of business in March 2018, when the BJP-led state government announced a hike in annual license fees for both onshore and offshore casinos. For both types of casinos, the license renewal fee was also raised from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
Recently, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that from Feb 1 2020 Goans are banned from entering and playing in Goa casinos, unless they were employed by the casinos. The minister also announced the designation of the Commercial Tax Commissioner as Gaming Commissioner under Section 13C of the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act as amended in 2012 by the previous Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. Sawant also stated that the Gaming Commissioner will have the right to enter any onshore or offshore casino and ask for personal identification of anyone in the facility.
In a related development, as per a recent report by Navbharat Times, Lobo suggested that to revive Goa’s economy more casinos should be added to Goan rivers like Chapora (North Goa) and Zuari (South Goa) and at Mopa airport. He added that casino vessels on the river Mandovi should not be moved. He further assured that Matka, a form of lottery, will not be shut down in the state.
Lobo added that Matka should be legalised in Goa to improve the GST collection of the state from this popular, yet illegal, game. Interestingly, Lobo had made comments supporting legalisation of matka and continuation of casino industry in the state a few weeks ago, as well.
The Port Minister’s views on casinos on Goan rivers are in stark contrast to that of the BJP-led state government, who has assured that the casinos on the river Mandovi will be relocated. As per Lobo, casinos ‘help the state treasury’ by paying annual license fees and other revenue contributions like GST. He also stated that every vessel on the river Mandovi employs about 400 employees, helping generate employment in Goa.