Goa’s state government has granted another six-month extension for the state’s offshore casinos to remain on the Mandovi River. This comes as the latest addition to a series of extensions in recent years as the government continues to debate moving the casinos onshore.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced this week that the extension would run from 31 March to 30 September 2021. The state cabinet has granted the extension for off-shore casinos to remain in the Mandovi river till an alternate location is recommended to them.
Earlier, the state government led by late Manohar Parrikar had said that off-shore casinos would be moved out of the river to another location owing to the opposition from locals and NGOs. Since then many places have been coming up as suitable destinations for the casinos.
Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai had put up the idea of creating an entertainment zone near the upcoming international airport at Mopa in North Goa, where these casinos can be shifted. In addition, the Zuari river in South Goa and Chapora river in North Goa has also been shortlisted as candidate sites but no decision has been made yet.
The removal of these offshore casinos has been in talks from the very first day of the new government but still, the government has failed to solve the matter.
Manohar Parrikar, former CM of Goa was a huge figure who took the battle to the casino industry demanding the removal of the casinos from the river, leading to several agitations. But once he came in power, Parrikar made a U-turn on the issue and ignored his promises.
Babush Monserrate also promised the voters of Panaji of removal of casinos in 100 days if he gets elected during the elections but years have passed and the casinos are still anchored in the Mandovi river.
There are six off-shore casinos including Deltin Royale, Casino Pride, Big Daddy, and the latest addition KINGS Casino that are currently operating from the Mandovi river in the state capital, Panaji.
The government has been reluctant to shut the casinos down in the interim due to the tax revenues they generate. CM Pramod Sawant recently revealed that Goa’s offshore casinos had generated Rs 7.86 billion (US$108 million) in state revenue over the past nine years.
Goa’s casinos spent much of 2020 closed down due to COVID-19, having shut their doors on during lockdowns before eventually reopening almost eight months later for Christmas and New Year celebrations.