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The Goa casino industry continues to be at the center of a storm created by the opposition, with the latest coming from Vijai Sardesai (cover image), Independent Legislator, who has accused the BJP govt of ‘mortgaging’ the River Mandovi to the casino lobby. Even as the accusation came in, news reports stated that the state govt had announced a hike of ₹2 Crores in fees for onshore casinos, while separating offshore casinos into two categories.
On the last day of the Goa legislative assembly’s monsoon session, Vijai Sardesai, Independent Legislator from Fatorda raised the issue of casinos in the ‘Zero Hour’ and said that it was a ‘serious matter’.
Sardesai referred to the sixth casino and reminded the assembly about the BJP promising that there would be no more casinos and pointed out that “the additional advocate general of Goa has told the court that it shall favorably consider the application for further renewal of casino license (Golden Globe Hotels).”
He further demanded an appeal to bar the new casino in the River Mandovi and claimed that the govt had ‘mortgaged’ the river to the casino industry. Sardesai also claimed that a certain politician from outside Goa, who had no locus standi was holding the reins over the BJP govt.
Reacting sharply to the comments, Laxmikant Parsekar, Chief Minister stated that the said offshore casino already had been granted a license in September 2009. He declared that the license had been granted by the previous Congress govt and said, “Generally, I do not reply to the issues raised during zero hour but I am replying as allegations were made against the government.” Parsekar added that “he would look into the matter.”
Later speaking to the media, Parsekar said that if the Golden Globe Hotels Private Limited (GGHPL) paid the annual recurring fees, with penalty and interest; the govt would consider the renewal of their offshore license.
A day later, the govt announced a hike in annual fees for land-based casinos and introduced two new categories for offshore casinos. The news was released by Neetal Amonkar, Under-Secretary, Home Department in a notification that said the license was being increased by ₹2 Crores.
According to the notification, land-based casinos with an area up to 100 sq m would now have to pay ₹3.50 Crores as compared to the ₹2.50 Crores charged earlier.
Similarly onshore casinos more than 100 sq m but up to 300 sq m would now be liable for ₹ 4.50 Crores as against the ₹3 Crores charged before.
300 sq m, but up to 500 sq m, will have to pay 5 crores instead of the earlier 3.5 crores. The fees for 500 sq m, but up to 750 sq m, would increase from ₹4.5 Crores to ₹6.5 Crores.
The two new categories introduced for land-based casinos are those with an area between 1,000 sq m paying ₹8 Crores and those above 1,000 sq m paying ₹8.5 Crores.
It was revealed that these categories had been introduced for the first time and the Chief Minister later said that this had been done to ensure that no more casinos come up.
Cover Image Courtesy: Twitter