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According to the Navhind Times, the Goa casino industry has announced that it was willing to shift from offshore operations, provided they were given onshore licenses, with licenses for running live games. Currently the offshore casinos are only licensed for operating machine games.
The news came just a day after the deadline for shifting of the offshore casinos from the River Mandovi to alternate locations was extended by the BJP-led government by another year to March 31, 2017.
Laxmikant Parsekar, CM, Goa had hinted that there could be a move to take the offshore casinos onshore and reports suggest that this idea had been originally mooted by eminent industrialists to ex-Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, currently Defence Minister when he had first taken charge of Goa.
The casino industry reacted with positivity and Shrinivas Nayak Director, Casino Pride welcomed the proposal but added that they should be compensated with live gaming licenses to offset their losses in shifting, “We have invested huge amounts in the vessels and if we are told to shift, we will do it but what about the vessels? We will re-incur investment costs for onshore casinos and the government will have to ensure security to our investment.”
Narendra Punj, former MD, Delta Corp Limited believed that the move was definitely a good idea, “Operating cost for the casinos offshore is high compared to onshore. Therefore, moving on shore is a more viable option to these casinos.”
The issue also raised questions on why there were two types of gaming licenses in the first place. Pioneer of the Goa casino industry, Dr William Britto, MD of the onshore Chances Casino stated, “Why are there two levels of licences for casinos? Those who are already running onshore casinos be granted live gaming licences.”
Dr. Britta further suggested that the government should create uniformity in the business, with mandatory requirements that cover points, such as number of tables etc, before providing live gaming licenses. He also added that the government should appoint a gaming commissioner and ensure regulatory mechanisms for the casino industry.
If implemented, the move will be the best for all parties concerned. A source reported that “The vessels from where the offshore casinos are functioning are not seaworthy and, therefore, the government cannot force these vessels to move out of River Mandovi. However, the government is not willing to give up on the huge sums of revenue the industry provides in addition to employment.”
By allowing these to go onshore, the government will be able to solve all issues with ease and end the stalemate that has been plaguing the state past few years.