Panaji, Oct 31 (IANS) The proliferation of casinos has turned Goa into a ‘sin city’, state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro said on Saturday, adding that successive governments including those of the Congress party were responsible for turning the state into a gambling hub.
Faleiro was speaking to reporters after a meeting of the party’s state executive committee in Panaji, which also passed a resolution to conduct a debate on casinos, after which the party will take a formal decision on whether doing away with the gambling industry would form one of the main poll planks of the party’s 2017 assembly election campaign.
“Successive governments including those of the Congress and the BJP and another (Goa People’s Congress-led coalition government) had promoted casinos, thinking it would help tourism. But casinos have now turned Goa into sin city, a place of vice. The casinos have ruined Goa’s reputation,” Faleiro said.
“The party workers will deliberate on the issue. The final decision on casinos will be taken after two weeks,” Faleiro said.
Goa, a top beach tourism and night life destination, has nine onshore casinos located in the numerous five star resorts in the beach state as well as four operational offshore casinos.
Goa, which attracts nearly three million tourists every year, is one of the very few states in India where casino gambling is legal.
From 2010-2013, the state exchequer earned Rs.1.89 billion from the casino industry.
“Shutting down casinos will affect the government revenue in the short term but this ill-gotten wealth has a big price attached to it in the form of social decay and disruption of Goa’s image,” Faleiro said.
Ahead of the 2012 state assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had led a sustained campaign against the casino industry for several years, had promised that if voted to power its government would rid the Mandovi of casinos.
But the BJP-led coalition government is now being accused by the Congress, as well as civil society groups of backing the casino industry, with the party not having fulfilled its promise of doing away with casinos, even after being in power for three years.
“It has been three years now, what happened to BJP’s promise? If the BJP wants help to do away with casinos from Goa, the Congress is willing to help it now,” Faleiro said.