Goa Scheduled To Get Gaming Commissioner In A Couple Of Weeks
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has defended his decision to renew the license of a fifth floating casino in the state, reiterating that his party was not keen on promoting casinos but is required by law to renew licenses.
Parsekar has also announced that the newly created position of gaming commissioner would be filled within the next fortnight.
The gaming commissioner will be responsible for regulating the casino industry in Goa, one of three states in India with legalized gambling.
The commissioner will however have no say in deciding the location of the casinos. MV Royal Flotel Deltin Caravel which is operated by Delta Corporation Ltd has been stationed on the River Mandovi near Britona after its recent license renewal triggered protests. Deltin recently acquired Caravela which is Goa’s first floating casino and renamed it as Deltin Caravel. Delta Corporation Ltd already operates two off-shore casinos, Deltin Jaqk and Deltin Royale and additionally possesses the license for a third casino.
Protests against the vessel anchoring on River Mandovi included a rally by Britona village residents and local leaders. Parsekar said that the vessel can be moved from the River Mandovi but the government first needs to identify a suitable location. The government has been trying to identify alternate locations for over two years now but has been unable to do so, forcing it to issue extensions to casinos to operate from their current location on the River Mandovi.
Opposition parties in the state have criticized the latest license approval by the government. The Nationalist Congress party (NCP) and the newly-formed party Goa Forward Party have issued statements saying that the ruling BJP government was actively promoting the casino industry and destroying Goa as a family tourist destination.
The government in Goa is in the process of reviewing new gambling laws which would implement a host of measures including barring of locals residents into the casinos. The government hopes that these will lessen the social impact of casinos in the state. The Gaming Commissioner is expected to be given the authority to give special permission to locals to enter the casinos.
Other measures include prohibiting entry of anyone under the age of 21 years and increasing the entry fee from the current Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,000. Additionally casinos will be required to collect photo identify proof of every visitor, both locals and foreigners and also capture video images of all visitors which are to be maintained for a period of 30 days.
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