PANAJI: Stating that the government will stop issuing fresh casino licences in the state, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday assured that the government will amend the Goa Gambling Act to ensure that the current casino vessels would not be operational in the Mandovi after three years.
“…The government will make amendment to the Goa Gambling Act which will not permit casino vessels in the river Mandovi after three years. During this time, if the current offshore casino licence holders want to shift to the entertainment zone identified for the purpose then they can do so, but cannot continue operating in the Mandovi. The government will bring the amendment to the act wherein ‘vessel portion’ will be extinguished with a particular date,” he added.
Announcing the draft guidelines of casino policy while replying to the demands of grants on home and other departments in the state assembly on Monday, Parrikar said that as per the legislation passed in 2012 the government will put capping on offshore casinos in the state, categorically assuring that the government will not allow sixth offshore casino in the Mandovi.
Besides, no more casino licences would be issued to five-star hotels in future.
“The sixth casino (vessel) will never come into the Mandovi, as the government has power to put a cap on casinos in particular area, and we are capping it (the number of vessels) under this act to five offshore casinos only in the Mandovi,” he maintained. Parrikar, who also holds home portfolio, said that there are various provisions in the 2012 legislation, which will resolve 75 per cent of the issues related to the casino industry.
“As per this legislation, only tourists will be permitted on casinos; no Goan will be allowed on casinos except for employment. The government will appoint a gaming commissioner, which will regulate and keep control on the casino industry,” he said, adding that the legislation has not been enforced as it has not been notified.
The Chief Minister promised that the casino policy would be put in place before the next session of the state legislative assembly and the government will amend the act during that session, which will not allow operation of offshore casinos in the Mandovi after three years.
“Since I had been stuck in other issues, including the mining ban, and as I had not been here for the last two years, the government could not notify the amended legislation in the last five years,” he said, adding that now the government has decided to make it effective.
Parrikar also said the government will take the Opposition leader and other MLAs into confidence before finalising guidelines under the casino policy.
Observing that gambling is not good, he maintained out that you cannot simply remove anyone who has invested money in particular industry.