Panaji: Ascertaining his government’s intention to follow the proposal of the Manohar Parrikar government as regards moving the offshore casinos anchored in Mandovi river to the planned casino/ gaming zone near the in-development Mopa International Airport, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday categorically said that the process to move these offshore casinos to the particular zone would start once this zone is declared and notified, and the State Casino Policy unveiled.
“Offhand I cannot give you a deadline for release of the State Casino Policy as it would take some time,” he added, pointing out that once the offshore casinos move to the casino/gaming zone, they would naturally be converted into land-based casinos.
Speaking further, the Chief Minister said that the Goa Public Gambling Act would have to be amended for the purpose. “The government will also appoint the State Gaming Commissioner for regulating all legal gambling activities in the state,” he informed, mentioning that live gambling will be allowed in the casinos shifted to the casino/ gaming zone at Mopa.
It may be recalled that the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister on May 15, earlier this year, recommending closure of the offshore casinos after expiry of their licences, following pressure from the public to shut down these floating gambling houses.
Informally interacting with the pressmen, the Chief Minister further said that he has sought a police report on the issue pertaining to the demolition taken up by the Corporation of the City of Panaji as regards “encroachments” by the offshore casino Big Daddy, and a related scuffle between city MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate and a woman resulting in registration of a First Information Report (FIR) against the legislator on charges of allegedly outraging the modesty of this woman.
“I expect to get this report by today evening,” the Chief Minister said, stressing that no one can take the law in his hands. “If any encroachments are to be removed then the particular authority can take action against it by following all legal procedures,” he noted.
The Chief Minister further said that he is running the government and fully understands that those who had made investments in the casino industry in Goa, cannot be asked to close down the casinos overnight. “We first need to decide the casino policy,” he observed, mentioning that any erroneous step on the part of the government would send a wrong signal to the investors, who desire to put their money in Goan industry.
“As a Chief Minister of the state, my first priority towards the investors would be to make them feel secure,” Sawant stated, pointing out that there would be no shutting down of casinos overnight.
Presently, there are seven casinos anchored in Mandovi river, including the recently added Big Daddy casino.