Disputing the news reports that two ‘new’ casino vessels have entered the state, the government on Thursday said the vessels are “replacements for casinos that had earlier been moved out of the river”.
A senior government official said the vessels have obtained the ‘certificate of registration and certificate of survey’ from the competent authority before entering into the Mandovi.
“By virtue of being registered under the Inland Vessels Act, these vessels are free to move from one river to another,” the official said, clarifying that the casino operator must have the nod of the home department to begin gaming activities.
The government has asked both the replacement vessels to anchor in the river at the same spot where the old vessels had been allotted space for mooring.
Several concerned citizens pointed out to ‘The Navhind Times’ that the new vessels appear to be bigger than the vessels they are replacing. But the senior government official claimed that the passenger capacity is similar to that of the previous
“These vessels are more spacious and safer than the previous ones,” the official said, adding that the maximum passenger capacity of ‘Big Daddy’, one of the new casinos moored in the Mandovi, is around 399 persons.
The two new vessels are in place of Casino Carnival and Casino Maharaja which have their registration papers in place.
Meanwhile, officials at the commercial tax department pointed out that the two new vessels are currently undergoing repairs and not operational.
“The department is only concerned with the earnings of the casino and does not look at the passenger capacity,” an official said.