Goa Residents to Be Barred from Indian State’s 15 Casinos
To keep their state’s casinos legal, residents of Goa might be banned from entering those same casinos. That’s what Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.
At present, Goa has 15 casinos, including 9 at 5-star hotel resorts and 6 riverboat casinos located on the Mandovi River. Manohar Parrikar said the new regulations could be on the way in the coming months. Those regulations would ban residents from casino play.
Manohar Parrikar said, “As a policy, Goans will not be permitted to enter the playin areas. A mechanism in this regard will be put in place once the gaming commissioner is appointed and appropriate rules formulated.”
According to Parrikar, a bill should be introduced to the Assembly in the coming weeks. If passed, the new policy would go into effect in early 2019. Only tourists would be allowed to gamble in the 15 casinos.
Goa Gambling Commissioner?
Goa’s chief minister said a gaming commissioner would have to be appointed before such regulations went into effect. The commissioner would oversee implementation of the new rules, which Parrikar said were being crafted by lawmakers at present.
Goa is one of India’s smallest and least populous states, with only 1.8 million residents. At the same time, Goa is one of the most popular tourist spots in India, due to its beaches, resorts, and nightspots.
Goa’s Tourism Industry
European travelers enjoy Goa’s Euro-friendly culture. It has a different vibe than other Indian states, because the state was a Portuguese colony for centuries. In the 1990s, European DJs visited Goa and made the region famous in the electronic music scene for Goa trance.
Goa is dependent on tourism, which is why the small state is unlikely to ever ban casinos altogether. Yet many of the state’s Indian residents believe gambling causes social problems, including debt, disharmony, bankruptcy, and crime. Though such problems are often overstated by social critics of casino gambling, banning residents makes a certain sense from a political point of view. Tourism is uninterrupted, but politicians can say they protected the culture.
As a sop to the 6 riverboat casinos, Manohar Parrikar said they would be allowed to build permanent land-based casinos, if they submitted an application to do so within one year of the law going into effect. The riverboat casinos in particular have been the subject of ongoing controversy and instability these past few years, with one deadline after another being extended.
Licensed for 10-15 Years
Parrikar said licensed would be valid for 10 to 15 years. He wants business operators to be secure in their investment, due to the high costs of building integrated casino-resorts these days. Such long licenses are fairly standard for the region, though some regions in Southeast Asia offer 70-year licenses to casino operators.
Once a license to move from a riverboat casino to a land-based venue, operators will have 4 years to build a casino and transition to the new place. Parrikar added, “Taking into account the huge investment involved in such projects, licenses for casino operations in designated zones could be considered for a tenure of 10 to 15 years.”
Grant Goversten, a gaming analyst from the Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd brokerage firm, said that Goa’s casino industry has the potential to generate $1 billion annually, if taxes remain low and policies are not too restrictive.
Changing from riverboat casinos to brick-and-mortar casinos is a big difference. Land-based gambling dens have more room for gaming space. Even more important, they have the kind of room which allows for live shows, exhibitions, and convention space. Casino resorts generate a lot more revenue.
Residential Casino Bans Elsewhere
In Japan, there was much concern about banning residents from gambling in the new Japanese casino economy. Of course, Japan has the world’s third largest economy and 127 million residents. Because Goa has only 1.8 million residents, Manohar Parrikar’s law should not be considered as troublesome to casino operators.
In Singapore, strict laws keep the 5.6 million residents from gambling at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa. Singapore is more comparable, due to population sizes. Tourism makes Singapore’s two casinos the most lucrative gambling venues in the world, on a casino-by-casino basis. Singapore, with only two casinos, is the third-leading gambling destination in the world — behind only Macau and Las Vegas.