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Just a few days ago the first-year anniversary of the most talked about reform of the year passed us by. Yes, it’s been a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook the entire nation when he announced the demonization of ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes on November 8, 2016, a move that left many in a cash crunch. One year later we scrutinize its effect on the casino industry in Goa.
Many would think that demonetization would have hit the casino industry hard, however contrary to popular perception it eventually made a positive impact. Sure there was a lot of commotion in the initial few months that even saw traffic and revenues plummeting for the Casinos immediately following the demonetization announcement, but things are now even better than before for Casino`s in Goa as per latest reports.
One of the major players, Delta Corp, owned by Highstreet Cruises & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd that operates the Casino`s Deltin Royale and Deltin JAQ, have not only come out from the initial shock but have also grown after demonetization.
“Delta Corp has grown by 18% immediately after demonetisation, in the April-June quarter. We have also seen phenomenal growth in the number of visitations on account of a relatively high number of holidays in the months of July and August,” a source said.
In fact, Deltin Royale even converted a floor dedicated to club members to accommodate the incremental visitor segment, which has been steadily growing, as reported by TOI.
The initial impact of the announcement lasted for about four months after which things started getting back to normal. “The players stopped coming and there was a problem because we didn’t get big money players,” an official in the accounts department of a casino told TOI.
Recent study however shows that the regulars have since returned to the tables and the casino floors continue to hustle with the usual crowd. However a major change that happened along the way was the incremental use of digital payments.
“Earlier, 15-20% of the transactions were through cards, but now, nearly 50% of our revenue is through digital, which includes cards, netbanking or RTGS,” the General Manager of a major casino operator said.
Although online or ATM transactions are allowed, another offshore casino director said that electronic transaction has severe limitations. “Say a person swipes his debit or credit card for ₹10,000 and loses ₹2,000. If he demands back Rs 8,000, we have to pay cash. It takes seven days to reverse a debit card transaction and requires constant follow up with the banks,” he said.
On the first-year anniversary of demonetization, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in a press conference shed some light on the government`s stand to force casinos to switch to digital transactions. He said, “I think cash transactions do not come under state government powers. It is the central government… cashless is a promotional activity; digital payment is a promotion activity“.