It has been just a few days since Goa imposed ban on locals from stepping foot inside area casinos; however, some are already opposing the move. Pramod Sawant, Goa’s Chief Minister recently chose the region’s Commissioner of Good & Services Tax to be the new Gaming Commissioner, a position which will enforce ban of locals from entering casinos. Not everyone is pleased with the plan though and at least one of Sawant’s fellow policymakers thinks the state is going in the wrong direction. He has openly come out to question the rationality of the move and, though supports the gambling ban, doesn’t think that locals should be prohibited from visiting casinos.
As a matter of fact, Goans have been barred from entering casinos since The Gambling Act of 2012 was introduced. However, the rule did not receive much attention until now. Michael Lobo, State Ports Minister doesn’t essentially disagree with the ban on gambling and thinks that there is a difference between being permitted to enter a casino and being permitted to gamble at one.
Lobo says, according to The Times of India, “There are other things in casinos besides gaming. There is music, entertainment, food, etc. Nepal and Sri Lanka have banned their citizens from gambling in casinos. Goans are Indian nationals, so you should not allow all Indians entry while not allowing Goans. This needs to be debated at the highest levels.”
As reported by calvinayre.com, the Gambling Act of 2012 was enacted after complaints of individuals losing everything to gambling. However, gambling compulsion is something which needs to be treated, not avoided. Simply because gambling is unlawful doesn’t mean that people won’t gamble, and not letting locals into casinos only encourages the activity to go underground where there won’t be any consumer protection. Also, it stops governments from gathering revenue from the activity.
Lobo also thinks that matka, a type of lottery, should be legal too. If Goa would allow it, the state could collect tax from it, once again serving to fill voids in the funds. Recently, Lobo explained to reporters, “Today or tomorrow matka will be legal. There will be no ban. It will be legal. It will come under the ambit of law. No one pays GST on matka. There is a huge loss to the government. My request is to let it come under the purview of law and GST should be applied on it.”
State Congress president Girish Chodankar, another legislator, thinks the selection of a Gaming Commissioner is just a “sham.” At the beginning of this month, he questioned the move, saying, “The CM’s announcement of appointing a Gaming commissioner is like throwing dust in the eyes of the people. The law was already amended in 2012 to appoint a Gaming Commissioner, but successive BJP governments did nothing to implement it. The [Bharatiya Janata Party] should now answer why despite amending the law in 2012, no rules were notified to allow for appointment of the Commissioner or for the official’s functioning.”