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Sikkim, one of the most beautiful states of India boasting of a rugged, green terrain and amazing weather is also one of the only two existing gaming and gambling destinations in the country that houses fully functional Casinos – Goa being the other. And now, with the recently built Pakyong Airport finally obtaining its license to run commercial flights, Sikkim may as well be one of the top contenders to become the idyllic weekend getaway for tourists and gaming enthusiasts alike.
On May 5, 2018 Union aviation minister Suresh Prabhu announced the formal clearance for commercial license to Pakyong airport, predicting that it will boost the state’s tourism and economy. Notably, Sikkim was the only Indian state that did not have an airport of its own and Pakyong becomes the country’s 100th airport.
As of now, only Spicejet has got licensed permission to fly in and out of Pakyong. It flew its first plane into Pakyong for a trial run on March 10 and will soon be starting direct flights between Kolkata and Pakyong.
The airport at Pakyong is the first Greenfield airport to be constructed in the north-east, built at the height of 4,700 feet from sea level and 35 kilometers from Gangtok. The project has come through after much delay and the airport was completed at the estimated cost of ₹350 crore.
The Pakyong (Gangtok) Airport at Sikkim got license today for scheduled operations. It’s an engineering marvel at a height of more than 4,500 ft in a tough terrain. Will pave way for direct air connectivity to our lovely state of Sikkim, giving boost to tourism & economic growth pic.twitter.com/qJT0YcGw5x
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) May 4, 2018
Once fully operational it will facilitate a direct and quick access to the state’s capital Gangtok that is currently home to three casinos- Casino Mahjong, Deltin Denzong and Casino Sikkim at Hotel Royal Plaza aka Royal Casino. Casino Mahjong has a 7-table poker room and overall between these three casinos, Gangtok offers more than 20 table games, more than 200 slot and gaming machines and poker games that include the Texas Hold’em and Russian Poker, etc.
Earlier, the only airport close to Sikkim was the Bagdogra airport in West Bengal, around 124 kilometres from Gangtok. A civil helicopter service was the only other by-air connect to the state’s capital or a long and not the safest car ride making it difficult for poker players to reach Gangtok.
So now that the hurdle is in the past, one should expect a reasonable increase in the number of players travelling to Gangtok for playing casino games and poker; at the same time, Gangtok will surely be a popular destination for poker tournament organizers.
In any case, the state's capital city is sure to witness a big rise in the number of travelers coming in.