Casinos to remain shut in Goa on Wed | india | Hindustan Times
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Casinos to remain shut in Goa on Wed

Offshore and onshore casinos in Goa will shut down on Wednesday in protest against the state government's decision to sharply hike the entry fee from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000 per person.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2009 19:41 IST

Offshore and onshore casinos in Goa will shut down on Wednesday in protest against the state government's decision to sharply hike the entry fee from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000 per person.

"The steep hike is throttling business," Casino Association of Goa (CAG) spokesperson Narinder Punj told reporters on Tuesday. The association is newly formed and comprises six offshore casino operators and 12 onshore casinos in Goa.

"Our business has dropped by 90 percent in south Goa and by 50 percent in north Goa. Enough is enough. The government is driving away the casino industry. Nowhere in the world do you see such a steep entry fee," Punj, managing director of High Street casinos, the company which runs the biggest offshore vessel Casino Royale, told reporters.

When asked to comment on reports that ministers in the government were trying to extort money from the casino operators, Punj said: "I can only say that our life is being made difficult."

John Snowball, general manager of the Essel group-owned Maharaja casino, said all the casinos represented a cumulative investment of Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) and that by pushing the casino industry to the brink "the government is only killing the golden egg-laying goose".

"The industry could generate Rs 70 crore for the government if it is allowed to settle down and prosper. But conditions are being made very difficult for legitimate business to prosper," Snowball said.

While acknowledging that there was no further scope for more players in the offshore casino market, N Srinivas of Casino Pride said Goa was still unable to attract the high spenders to the gaming tables yet.

"We are still promoting cheap tourists whose daily budget is $20. We don't have infrastructure like Macau to attract the big players yet," he said.