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The casino industry in Goa seems to be in the middle of a simmering political drama. Just after Goa’s Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services conducting physical inspection and audit of all the six casino vessels on November 1, and the state’s Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai suggesting the development of a casino strip along the coastline in Panaji, it is now the turn of Congress that has demanded a probe into the state’s casino industry.
According to NDTV, on November 5, the Congress alleged that “casino operations were a strictly cash affair and ran counter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s vision of cashless transactions.”
Goa Congress President Girish Chodankar also stated that the state government was losing ₹4,000 to ₹5,000 Crores every year due to revenue leakages from the casino industry, adding that the Congress was against the casino industry in the tourist state.
“The Prime Minister calls for e-transactions and using less cash. But the entire casino industry is running on cash. 90% is in cash transactions, which are never shown on their books. Their computer system is such that if there is a transaction of ₹1 Lakh, it will show as only ₹10,000. It is automatic. The DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence) should raid, the Income Tax should raid and check,” Chodankar said.
At present Goa has six offshore casinos anchored and operating from the Mandovi river, and around nine onshore casinos that function out of the numerous five-star resorts across the state. But due to limited checks on the casino revenue system, it has been speculated that the state government may have lost almost ₹24,000 Crores in revenues since 2012.
During the timeline between 2007 to 2012, when the current ruling party was in the opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had opposed casino operations in Goa, where most of the casino licenses had been granted by the previous Congress-led coalition governments.
Even top BJP leaders like current Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had pledged to dismantle the offshore casino industry after his party came to power.
With these two leading national political parties creating an unruly atmosphere for the casino industry, the future of these establishments seems to be in jeopardy.