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Andhra Pradesh Govt Exploring Vizag Coastline For Setting Up Offshore Casinos to Generate Revenue

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  • RUPAM THAKUR October 6, 2020
  • 2 Minutes Read

The Andhra Pradesh government led Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is reportedly mulling the possibility of permitting offshore casinos within the Indian territorial waters off the Visakhapatnam coast. The state government’s proposed project has been taken on the backdrop of the financial derailment caused by the novel Coronavirus pandemic. The government plans to lure tourists to these floating casinos to generate revenue, following the Goa casino model.

Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy
Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy

 

This is not the first time that the Visakhapatnam coastline is being explored for casinos. In September 2015, we reported how the state government was in talks with several domestic and international casino operators to make Vishakhapatnam a coastal casino hub of the east. Even the coastal state of Karnataka had explored similar possibilities in 2016, followed by Puducherry. But none of these plans ever materialized.

The Andhra Pradesh government is apparently looking for the central government’s approval of the same. An anonymous government official was quoted by the Mint as saying:

“Offshore casino is being explored for some time now. Andhra Pradesh needs revenue and has a huge coastline that can be leveraged for promoting tourism.”

The state’s coastline is 975-km long, and India’s territorial waters extend up to 12 nautical miles into the Bay of Bengal from the coast.

A clear dichotomy can be seen here as the same government on September 25 last month passed an ordinance to amend the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act 1974 – banning all forms of real money online games like fantasy sports, rummy, poker, and other ‘skill’ games. This move came after the government had announced a ban on them on September 3. Clearly, real money live gambling will have to be regulated under separate legislation if the current plans get the go-ahead.

It has also been reported that the state government is exploring the likelihood of generating revenue through the lottery business. Currently, 13 states in India have legally permitted lotteries. Sikkim and Goa are the only two states that have regulated casinos.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the state was in dire need of funds to promote local development. After introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, there were limited ways for states to raise taxes. Andhra Pradesh has outstanding liabilities of ₹3.2 Lakh Crores to the Central Government, and other than the proposed plans, the state government is looking at additional ways of raising revenue.

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