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Goa Casinos Could Open in October Asserts State Ports Minister Michael Lobo

Michael Lobo
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  • Namita Ghosh September 7, 2021
  • 2 Minutes Read

Goa – the hub of India’s casino sector shuttered down its casinos in April-end, and the closure has been continuously extended since. Just this week, the Pramod Sawant-led government extended the COVID-curfew until September 13. We have been missing the excitement of the live casino action in Goa for five months running. But strong indications are giving us hope that the casino sector may reopen in October!

In a recent statement, the State Ports Minister, Michael Lobo, asserted that the government would evaluate the COVID situation in the country next month and take an official call on reopening the casinos.

“Casinos right now have not started. The government will consider starting casinos by next month, after looking at the (Covid) situation in the country. If the Covid situation in the country improves, only then the casinos will start, and we will get tourists in the state of Goa.”

Director of Majestic Pride Group, Shrinivas Nayak, has also hinted that the casinos may resume operations next month. In a recent interview with Jay Sayta, Nayak said that the entire casino industry suffered during the COVID lockdown last year and the ongoing shutdown, both in terms of loss of momentum and money. But casinos are gearing up to welcome guests again.

“We’re hoping to start from the beginning of next month. We’re expecting complete market support in terms of footfall and revenue from month one,” Nayak said.

Shrinivas Nayak
Shrinivas Nayak

 

Nayak predicts casinos will get roaring back to business in no time once they reopen. “Last year, when we re-started in October 2020, we were able to gain momentum within 10 days. The experience was excellent in terms of revenue and footfall, until April this year.”

 

What About Safety & Business?

Shrinivas Nayak stressed that the entire casino industry is gearing up for the reopening, and operators have taken adequate precautions to ensure a safe gaming experience for visitors.

He opined that since the government has already mandated all visitors to Goa to be either double vaccinated or carry a negative RTPCR report. Hence, casino operators may decide not to impose the pre-condition of furnishing proof on customers. “If the government insists on checking the vaccination status, we will do it.”

“The entire casino industry is gearing up to prove that visiting casinos is safe. We have also learned a lot from our past experience (in 2020), so to avoid the spread of the virus in Goa, particularly in the casino, we have taken a lot of precautions. All of our staff and even ancillary service providers like taxi drivers are double-vaccinated,” Nayak added.

 

Tourist Season Ahead in Goa

Goa currently has over 1.74 Lakh confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 900 are active cases. This includes 72 new cases that were reported on September 5.

Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, marriage, and other gatherings are permitted but at only 50% venue capacity. On the other hand, casinos, auditoriums, community parks, entertainment and water parks in Goa, and even river cruises are still not allowed to operate.

For a tourist state like Goa, it’s season time coming up ahead, and casinos are one of the biggest attractions in Goa.

State Port Minister Michael Lobo emphasized how the onus is on the Union Home Ministry to support Goa’s tourism sector by permitting flights to the coastal state. He said the Union government should let the aviation tourism industry to run flights on safe air-bubble routes and allow chartered tourist flights into Goa.

“We hope that the tourism business improves once Covid-19 comes down. We are also hoping that the international charter flights open in the state of Goa. Flights from Europe, Russia, and some other European countries come here. Since there is a ban on tourists coming to India, I feel that the MHA should give relaxation for these bubble flights, especially charter flights coming from one country to the other,” he pointed out.

Michael Lobo
Michael Lobo

 

Last year, the casinos had stayed shut from mid-March to October 31, following which the state government permitted them to resume operations at 50% capacity from November 1. The reopening became the bone of contention for political opponents like Congress. Groups like the Goa Youth Congress rallied up to the Goa Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to oppose the move.

With the tourist season looming and suggestions of herd immunity against COVID-19 building up in the country, the government most likely won’t keep casinos shut for too long.

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