Goa Casino Industry Facing Pressure From Political Groups
India has strict laws on gambling and only a three states allow casinos to operate. The state of Goa has the biggest concentration of casinos and is also the only place that allows live gaming. Live gaming is permitted only on floating casinos and tends to attract a large number of foreigners and locals.
There are a total of 15 casinos in Goa and only four of those casinos are offshore. The remaining casinos are floating casinos that operate on the Mandovi River and overlook the capital of Panaji like the Casino Royale Goa.
The casinos have in the past aggressively promoted themselves as entertainment destinations that offer patrons gaming, buffet dinners, drinks and live performances. The two most popular games at Goa’s casinos are blackjack and roulette; where players spend between $200 and $300 per night.
Goa’s casino industry has faced a lot of pressure in the recent past from the political parties who believe that the casino industry is an evil and should be banned. Ever since the BJP government came into power, there has been talk of now renewing casinos licenses in the coming years but the state government is yet to agree to ban the casino industry as it generates a significant amount of money in the state. Four of these floating casinos have to renew their license in March 2016 and the state government is hoping that the political opposition against the casino industry will weaken in the coming months.
In a statement, Luizinho Faleiro, from the Indian National Congress said
It is an evil affecting Goan society. Many young Goans are falling for this culture, ruining their life and destroying the families.
The casinos cater to mass market gamblers and attract around 80% of casual gamblers and 20% of professional gamblers. Indian gamblers who in the past had to travel out of India to places like Singapore, Malaysia and Macau now prefer to visit Goa and spend the money saved on traveling at the gaming tables. The majority of Indian gamblers who frequent Goa’s casinos are between the ages of 25 to 40 and are generally working professionals or business consultants.
The gambling industry is expected to grow significantly in the coming years as India contemplates legalizing sports betting which could turn out into a multi-billion dollar industry. But for now Goa’s casinos will have to deal with the possibility of political opposition that could result in a blanket ban on the casino industry within the state.
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