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Explained: License regime to operate casinos in India

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In India, casino gaming is permitted only in three states, namely Goa, Sikkim, and Daman and Diu. Goa, Daman and Diu, Sikkim require operators to obtain a license for offering gambling games through casinos within the state’s territorial limits. Betting and gambling is a state subject as per the constitution and as such only states can legislate the law to permit casinos.

While Goa and Sikkim have operational casinos, the administration of Daman and Diu has so far not issued any license. Leading casino and leisure operator Delta Corp’s application for operating a casino in Daman has been pending with the administration.

Delta Corp had earlier approached the Bombay HC praying for directions to the Daman and Diu authorities to process the application for operating a casino.

A decade back, Delta Corp opened a five-star resort The Deltin in Daman with plans to launch casino operations. However, as on date it has not received any regulatory approval.

Each of these states have notified an authority for applying for a license. For Goa, the concerned department is Home Department; for Daman and Diu, the Director of the Tourism Department is the regulatory authority for casinos, games of electronic amusement and slot machines.

Sikkim has notified an officer of the Finance, Revenue and Expenditure Department as the regulatory authority for issuing licences for online games that can be offered through the statewide intranet and for issuing licences for casinos.

Apart from the above states, Meghalaya in 2021 has enacted a law to permit casinos in the state. However, faced by huge public backlash the Conrad Sangma government had to repeal the law and put the proposal on backburner.

The Maharashtra government in 1976 enacted the Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, to legalise casinos, gaming and wagering. However, till date the Maharashtra government has not notified and implemented the enactment.

In Goa, the licenses can be issued to operate casinos in five star hotels or offshore vessels. These offshore vessels are normally stationed on river Mandovi near the state capital Panjim. For Sikkim, the policy is to grant licenses only for casino operations in five star hotels.

It is to be noted that the licensees are required to pay license fee in a timely manner to continue to operate a casino.

While aforesaid states permit casinos, no foreign investment is permitted in these ventures due to restrictions under India’s exchange control laws. 

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