As of Saturday, February 1, casinos in the Indian state of Goa will be prohibited to local residents while the government also took measures to create a permanent gambling regulatory body.
Indian media quoted Goa’s Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday, saying he would assign the state’s Commissioner of Good & Services Tax as Goa’s new Gaming Commissioner responsible for making rules to control the local casino industry.
Goa’s absence of a permanent gambling regulator partially explains the disorder which customarily reigns in the local casino sector. Currently, there are six floating casinos on the River Mandovi and a somewhat bigger number based in five-star hotels.
As reported by calvinayre.com, the new Gaming Commissioner’s first task will be making sure that no local residents – or ‘original Goans’ as CM Sawant named them on Thursday – ever enter a casino gaming floor again. Sawant said the bar would be imposed “step by step,” starting with an official notification being issued “either today or tomorrow.”
After that notice is given, Sawant said the Gaming Commissioner will have the power to “enter the casinos at any time and ask for identity card if he suspects anyone to be a Goan.” Sawant was quiet on details, but earlier attempts to ban locals offered a carveout for locals who work in casinos, as well as restricting casino access to persons 21 years or older.
Two decades ago, Goa’s casino business started with the aim of enticing tourists from overseas besides other parts of India. Honestly speaking, local residents were never too interested about gambling in Goa’s casinos, and recent surveys revealed only 1.1% of Goans visited local casinos every month.
Thursday’s announcements denote a rare example of Goan authorities actually accomplishing any of their stated aims to revamp the gaming sector, and the locals ban just took them eight years after authorizing amendments to the 1976 Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act way back in 2012.
Also, Thursday’s announcements will lift hopes that the government will finally address the graver issue of finding a permanent home for the six floating casinos. The current plan is a temporary shift to some other local stream – although no one can tell its location – prior to a permanent transfer of shipboard gaming operations to a selected land-based gaming zone.