Locals banned from entering Goa casinos from February
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced a ban on ‘original Goans’ from entering casinos in the state from February and said a mechanism to enforce the restriction will be framed soon.
“Goans will be banned from entering casinos. I have already moved the file. For now, the GST Commissioner can enter the casinos at any time and ask for identity card if he suspects anyone to be a Goan,” said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
The chief minister said the ban will be enforced “step by step” and the GST Commissioner had been authorized to frame the rules.
“The notification will be issued either today or tomorrow. From February we are stopping all the original Goans from entering casinos,” Sawant said, adding, that the GST Commissioner will be the designated ‘Gaming Commissioner’ under the Act.
The promise to ban Goans from entering casinos has been a long-standing one, former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had promised to do so back in 2012 and his successor Pramod Sawant reiterated the promise in August last year.
Opposition legislators have been supporting the ban-demand, claiming it would reduce the burden of gambling on the local populace.
A gambling survey released late last year, however, found that casinos are not the preferred choice for Goans. Only 1.1% of respondents (all of whom were local residents) surveyed, disclosed that they visited casinos during the past one year, while 67.8% admitted to playing the lottery and 52.3% admitted to playing ‘matka’, a game of numbers drawn out from an earthen pot.
There are six offshore casinos in Goa operated from boats anchored in the River Mandovi that flows past the capital city, as well as eight other casinos located within five-star hotels, that receive on an average around 1,000 visitors per day.
The 19-year-old industry is a big draw for thousands of tourists and contributes around ₹300-crore to the state coffers by way of licence fees and around ₹90 crore per year as State GST.
From one offshore vessel, which began operations in the year 1999, the state today has six gaming vessels that all float within a kilometre in the River Mandovi. Industry insiders reveal that each venue makes a turnover of around Rs 120-crore per year and see daily traffic of 600-800 persons per vessel, especially on weekends.