The state government of Goa has announced its plans to relocate the offshore casinos that operate legally in the region. The land-based operations are currently situated off the banks of the Mandovi River, and there has been a call to have them shut down. However, the state government has now proposed that the operations be moved to the Aguada Bay. According to a statement made by the opposition, the Goa Congress, this proposal is unacceptable.
Agnelo Fernandes, spokesperson for the Goa Congress, publicly spoke out against the proposal. He stated that the Congress condemns the proposed move and that they would fight against it to ensure that the land-based casinos are not allowed to move to the Aguada Bay area. Further criticism was levelled at the state government for not closing down the casinos all together, as they promised in their campaign leading up to election.
The main argument against the state government’s proposal of moving the casino operations is that the Aguada Bay area should be a protected region. There are dolphins living in the bay and relocating the land-based gambling operations here could put the species at risk. Firstly, there would be the construction considerations as new buildings would need to be erected for the casinos and the resorts attached to them.
Once the casinos were operational in the area, the dolphins in the bay would be put at further risk due to an increase in people visiting the area. The environmental damage has not been properly considered and no provision has been made to keep the dolphin species safe.
On the flip side of the argument, Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister for the state government, stated that it would be foolish to do away with the casinos all together. They are a big part of tourism to Goa, and the region requires a strong tourism industry in order to keep the economy going. This is why they have not gone ahead with the promise to rid the region of all the offshore casinos. Instead, they are looking for a viable alternative to keep both the social groups and the state’s economy happy.
In the meantime, the state government has granted all of the offshore casinos in the Mandovi River an extension of six months on their licenses. This will give the state enough time to come up with a plan to relocate them that appeases the public of the region.