Goa’s Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai wants to create a casino strip in Goa similar to Hong Kong harbour.
Mr. Sardesai said: “The casinos housed in ships should be removed because it causes pollution and the harbour should be developed on both sides like the Hong Kong harbour. There should be a tourism circuit. This has always been our demand.”
The State government has drafted a Goa Public Gambling (Restriction) Bill to replace the current Goa Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976, that allows for such a town although the word casino has been omitted from the bill. Instead it refers to a ‘common gaming-house.’ The bill would allow casinos on ships to continue to operate for four years after the Bill is enacted, and if they apply for a licence for a new land-based casino, they will get a further extension.
It would allow the big casino operators currently operating in offshore boats to build casino buildings without needing to operate a 5-star hotel. Interestingly, the recent passing of the Mopa Airport Development Authority Act, could see it converted into a designated casino zone. The Bill also prohibits Goans from playing at a casino with prison sentences for locals caught doing so.
India’s leading casino operator Delta Corp, who operates four casinos in the state of Goa alongside the Casino Deltin Denzong in the state of Sikkim, has already said it would float to fund the development costs in building a resort casino.
Talking to the Economic Times, Delta Corp Chairman Jaydev Mody said of the government’s policy change: “It is a win-win for everybody, for the government, for the people and for the industry. It makes a lot of sense…I do not see any reason why we cannot keep growing at that pace in the future. The business is there and we will keep growing. We just have to keep innovating and keeping our product and quality of service right up there.
“We are planning to invest, subject to the new land policy coming in,” he added. “We are planning to do an integrated resort which would have much more than hotels and gaming, it would have a water park and a lot of retail and a convention centre kind of a destination, an integrated resort. But all that depends on the casino policy and based on that, we structure our investment and our plan etc only after that. It would make sense politically because the chief minister has been asked by the people to get the ships moving out of the Mandovi. He thought the best thing would be to keep it close to the new airport, so that the rest of the state does not get affected.”