Calls For Clarity On Goa Gambling Policy

Priya Khan - 26-07-2019

Clarity On Goa Gambling PolicyIndia’s national government is still waiting for Goa’s written policy on gambling in the state, almost twelve months after it was due. Last week Goa’s government informed the Legislative Assembly that it was still examining the issue. This, however, is not the only gambling-related issue still being examined.

Unexplained Delays

On Tuesday the 16th of July, Indian National Congress’ Aleixo Reginaldo, questioned the progress of the written gambling policy. Goa’s Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant had informed the Assembly that the policy was still being investigated, as was the appointment of a gaming commissioner for the state. The commissioner was supposed to be appointed in December 2018. No indication of a new timeline was given, nor the reason for the delay.

Last year August Sawant's predecessor Manohar Parrikar announced the development of a formal Casino Policy that would guide gambling activities in the state. In addition, the policies and appointment of a gambling commissioner would reassure policymakers that no violations were occurring.

Although Sawant is adamant that no laws are being violated, and therefore giving the impression that a formal policy is not required, there have been several casinos accused of not paying their taxes. These casinos allegedly owe the government millions of dollars, and are under suspicion of manipulating their financial reports. As much as $947 million in revenue has been reported as missing.

Further Changes Needed

In the interim, while waiting for the formal policy to materialize there is the question of Goans being allowed to access the casino floors. After being accused of promoting gambling amongst locals, Monahar said last year that by the beginning of 2019 entry would be restricted to tourists only. In addition, the floating casinos of Goa would be moved out of their current site on the Mandovi River. This too is under examination, as is the shut down of casinos in Goa all together.

Earlier this year, Chief Minister Sawant was also considering the call to put an end to the industry altogether. He said the government was examining the proposal.

Goa has a total of fifteen casinos; six of these are on riverboats situated on the Mandovi River, and nine are land-based venues. Part of carrying out changes in the industry as laid out by previous Chief Minister Parrikar is also the removal of the riverboats to other designated areas.

It seems with so many promised deliverables to examine, the Goa industry may very well be in the same position this time next year.