Gambling holidays a rage this Diwali | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Gambling holidays a rage this Diwali

mumbai Updated: Oct 24, 2011 00:46 IST
Soubhik Mitra

Unlike her previous holidays to Dubai, this time Powai resident Pooja Nichalani might have little time to shop.

The 40-year-old homemaker has decided to celebrate Diwali hopping across Dubai’s casinos next week. “We shop all the time. The gambling tour hopefully will make this trip different,” said Nichalani.

Gambling attractions at nearby tourist destinations such as Macau, Singapore and Dubai are drawing crowds this Diwali.

Travel agents said that with Diwali falling mid-week, tourists from the city have been lucky to get hotel bookings this year. “Casinos at Macau are normally packed on weekends owing to massive demand from the local population,” said Ajay Prakash, president, Travel Agents Federation of India.

Closer to Mumbai, Casino Royale, the country’s largest casino vessel floating on the Mandovi river in Goa, is another attraction. After the usual Diwali ritual of meeting friends at card parties, city-based stock broker, Deepak Lulla, 57, will leave for Goa next week. “I love the place for the gambling options, food and ambience,” he said.

Travel trade sources said the company running the Goa facility is planning to open its first branch in Daman owing to the increasing clients from Mumbai and Gujarat. “They chose Daman because it is at driving distance from Mumbai and other big cities in Gujarat,” said a city-based travel agent requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Some families have also booked resorts on the outskirts of Thane and towards Lonavla to hold card parties. “Many people have been calling us asking for estimates for holding card parties at resorts nearby,” said Jay Bhatia, western region chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India.