The row over casinos in Goa rumbles on, with interested parties on both sides of the fence continuing to argue their case over the past few weeks.
The Goa Casino industry is lucrative, but it is one that has been controversial due to ongoing disputes over-regulation of gambling in the area.
There are nearly 20 onshore and offshore casinos such as Royal Panda Casino operating in Goa, located around the Mandovi River near Panaji.
They attract thousands of visitors every year and are viewed as being a hugely important part of the local economy. Read on as we look at the latest developments.
Chief Minister backs casinos
The biggest Goa Casino news in recent times undoubtedly came at a major event to launch numerous tourism projects.
Goa’s Chief Minister, Pramod Swanat, and Union Tourism Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel, were in attendance, and it was the former who gave his firm backing to casinos.
“During one of the media interviews I was asked whether I support casinos,” he said. “Casinos are one of the important parts of tourism as they attract tourists.
“We are getting direct and indirect revenue from the tourism industry. Now it depends on the stakeholders how to grow the industry, while the government can provide the necessary infrastructure for them”.
“We want more Goans to get involved in the tourism sector. We have lost several of our industrial sectors to non-Goans and we are facing bad consequences of it.”
Government critic calls for regulation
Former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar has been a vocal critic of the government’s failure to address regulatory issues in the state.
He has accused authorities of colluding with casino bosses and has demanded an inquiry into why casinos are still being allowed to operate there.
“Successive BJP governments in Goa have cheated the people vis-a-vis its assurances that the casino industry in Goa would be shut down,” he said.
“The Chief Minister needs to reply to our questions. Why has no Gaming Commission been appointed for seven years to regulate gambling?
“By which date will the casinos be moved out of the Mandovi River? Where will they be relocated eventually?”