6 Mins Read
The coastal state of Goa is one of the few places in the country where casino and gambling is legally permitted in India. Nearly a month and a half has passed since chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar assured that a firm casino policy will be implemented soon, when fresh political turmoil has hit the state, endangering the future of the BJP-led Goa government and consequently, the future of the casino industry.
A political storm is brewing with intensity over Goa. Eclipsed by Parrikar’s continued ailing health and allegations of corruption in the â‚¹1.44 Lakh Crores illegal mining scam, where Parrikar’s predecessor, Laxmikant Parsekar is primarily being investigated by Goa Lokayukta, Congress has renewed its attack on the state government and refreshed efforts to pull in reportedly disgruntled BJP elements to its fold.
CM Parrikar’s administration has been instrumental in stringing together a casino policy that envisions re-locating the state’s offshore casinos, currently located off-shore on river Mandovi to a singular hub, on shore and creating a mechanism for gaming regulation. Locals would not be permitted to enter the casino playing areas if the policy is enforced, while casino licenses would be renewed for five to ten years, and casinos given a maximum of four years to shift.
On Thursday, Goa Congress officially opened doors for an alliance to form government in the state. Subsequently on Friday, Goa Congress in-charge A. Chellakumar leveled fresh allegations against CM Parrikar who is currently admitted in AIIMS, Delhi, saying that he was “threatening people from his hospital room.”
While the BJP-led coalition has 23 MLAs in the 40 member house, Congress has only 16 legislators. Evidently, Congress seems confident of clinching the required addition to form their government.
While Chellakumar refused to divulge the numbers, he claimed that Congress has the ability to form the next government. “This government is going towards a natural death. There’s discontent within the cabinet and their only focus is to retain power, but that will speed up the process.”
Chellakumar further claimed that owing to Parikar’s illness, the functioning of the state government had come to a standstill. BJP was attempting to find a successor and senior BJP leaders came to Goa to hold discussions for the same, but nothing happened, he pointed out.
The question of bringing offshore casinos to land has polarized the political landscape of Goa in recent past. After the casino policy was first tabled in 2017, Goa Congress rejected the concept, and said that the state government’s plan to get the policy passed in the legislative assembly amounted to deceiving the citizens of the state, since the policy could not be enforceable as law.
Not that Parrikar’s government has been outrightly supportive of the gaming industry. For the fourth consecutive year, the Goa government has hiked the casino license fee, a big bone of contention for the casino operators. Two casinos, Carnival and Crown were forced to shut down after government hiked the license renewal fee multifold this year.
Though the casino policy has suffered much delay, Parrikar’s recent assurances have given hope of political support to the state’s casino industry. Any changes in the political leadership in the state would have serious repercussions on the gaming industry.