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The Goa casino industry has been in a state of uncertainty for quite some time now. Back in September, the state government of Goa had granted an extension of six months to casinos operating on the Mandovi River, but in October, the government made it mandatory for all offshore casinos to submit an unconditional undertaking. The latest update to hit the Goa casinos is former Infosys director and member of Goa’s IT Advisory Committee, T.V. Mohandas Pai‘s statement showing his support for the Singapore model of regulation to be implemented for all casinos in Goa.
In an interview with NavHind Times, the activist and philanthropist discussed his views on the need for Goa to tap into its strength and market it correctly to attract the IT industry in order to become the next IT hub.
Pai said, “Goa has good quality of life, but what is your good quality of life? You got beach, sun, friendly people, good food, but do you have IT? So how do you connect the availability of good quality of life and say it is good for IT?…..You can attract them by focusing on your strengths.”
Talking about the need for development and facing challenges, the veteran investor stated, “You can’t remain cut-off from rest of the country. People are opposing beach resorts, casinos. But look what Singapore has done with casinos. For locals the Singapore government is imposed a high entry fee. So, if you don’t want Goans in your casino have a high entry fee but allow outsiders to visit. The government needs money for infrastructure.”
The Singapore model that Pai advocated is the implementation of an entry fee of approximately $75 (₹5,249) per day or $1,500 (₹1,04,992) annually, on locals who want to play in the casinos. This model will ensure that while tourists will be able to freely access the gaming establishments, thereby benefitting tourism and bringing in the much-needed investment, it would also act as a deterrent to the locals preventing them from indulging in gambling.
While this support may seem as a silver lining to casino owners and operators in Goa, another recent upheaval struck the industry when head of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), Vijai Sardesai, bemoaned the lack of announcements being made in Konkani language at the Dabolim airport in South Goa, as opposed to the abundance of advertisements for casinos.
Recalling an incident with his sister, the minister said, “She (his sister) was upset that after her arrival, the (Dabolim) airport was full of advertisements for casinos and there was no mark of Konkani on the airport.”
However, this is not the first-time social organizations have objected to the presence of casinos in Goa.