Goa to get rid of casino riverboats in next three years, state asserts

  • Indian state will move casino boats off Mandovi river
  • Unclear whether operations will close down or move

The Indian state of Goa is making moves to oust casino riverboats from the Mandovi river, marking a change in government policy.

ON BORROWED TIME: Casino riverboats in Goa look to have three years to run.
ON BORROWED TIME: Casino riverboats in Goa look to have three years to run.

A 1976 law made Goa one of three states which permitted casino gambling under certain conditions, but the Hindustan Times reports that Congress is looking to reverse previous decisions. Minister Mauvin Godinho told a recent parliamentary sitting that the removal of casino riverboats will happen in the next three years.

The government is still unclear as to whether casino operations will be closed down across the Mandovi river and relocated, or whether gambling will be banned entirely.

Goa launches crime crackdown, targets gambling venues

Ministers who want casino riverboats removed also argue that crime has increased across the region of Goa, including a growth of drug culture and fears for young people who could be lured into organized crime. Congress is launching a bid to clean up the state, and casino gambling is among the industries in the firing line.

Goa is one of just three Indian states where gambling is legal. The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act of 1976 allowed local authorities in these regions to override India’s existing Public Gambling Act of 1867, and offer casino gambling under strict conditions. Only five star hotel venues and offshore floating casinos are allowed to operate. Goa currently has six floating casinos and four land-based venues. When the riverboats are closed, the future of the hotel casinos will also be uncertain.

There will no casinos in the Mondovi region in three years’ time, Godinho told government officials in Sunday’s session.

Difficult future for Deltin Group and Pride Group

The two companies who operate most of Goa’s casino interests are the Pride Group and Deltin Group. Deltin caters to the high end of the market, with its Deltin Royale cruise boat offering over 100 gaming tables and a host of luxury restaurants and lounges.

The Royale is also home to India’s one and only poker room, having been issued a special license.

Without the riverboat industry, punters will have to play at the state’s onshore hotel casinos.

However, these land based casinos are only permitted to offer electronic gaming, and do not have the licenses for table-based games. This is likely to harm casino revenues.

Goa is a prime tourist destination, and visitors love the glamorous casino riverboats.

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