Panaji, July 24 (IANS) Questioned repeatedly over the BJP-led Goa government’s alleged proximity to the casino lobby in the state, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said a new policy will soon cap the number of casinos in a particular area. He also said that Goans will be barred from visiting the gaming areas.
Replying to a debate in the state assembly on Home Ministry-related issues, Parrikar said all the five operational offshore casinos housed currently in Mandovi river would be forced to relocate on land over the next three years.
“The act will have a power to ensure that no Goan visits casinos. The government will have powers to cap casinos in a particular area. I can assure to cap casinos in this state. The sixth casino will never enter Mandovi. We are capping it, under this act, at five,” Parrikar said, during his nearly one-and-half-hour address to the state assembly.
Goa, one of the top tourism destinations in the country, is also known for its casino and gaming industry.
There are currently five offshore casinos anchored and operating from the Mandovi river, off the state capital, while there are nine onshore casinos, which function at numerous five-star resorts dotting the state.
While conceding that a casino was as much a vice as a bar, Parrikar said he too was opposed to the casino industry as an opposition legislator, but added that he was forced to continue their operations, because several stakeholders of the industry had invested money in vessels, especially to house casinos.
The Chief Minister also blamed the Congress party for virtually serving him a “fait accompli” on the casino issue.
“A fait accompli was created. We (had) definitely opposed. We also assured that we will cancel licence because that time there were no ships… When any person invests money, a state has a responsibility for continuity, right or wrong,” he said.
The Chief Minister maintained that the new policy would ensure that the casinos were relocated from the river to onshore.
“We are also ensuring that in three years’ time, the casinos in the river, on a vessel, will cease to exist. There will be amendment to the act in the next assembly session, where the vessel portion will be removed at a particular point,” Parrikar told the Goa Legislative Assembly.