Gaming rules to ban entry of locals in Goa casinos yet to be framed by state government

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Despite the pandemic-induced moratorium imposed by the state on Goa’s casinos for over a year now, the government has still not devised any mechanism and rules to determine if Goans are visiting them.

A senior home department official, according to a Times of India report, said that there has been no progress in finalizing the gaming rules. According to sources, rules can only be finalized and notified during the current government’s tenure if the home department speeds up the process. Once the rules are finalized, the law department will have to vet them.

In April, the state government had directed Goa’s casino industry to stop operations as a part of the strategy to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

The state government had notified the Goa Public Gaming (Amendment) Act, 2012, to ban the entry of Goans into the six offshore and nine onshore casinos in the state from February 1, 2020, and appointed the commissioner of commercial tax as the gaming commissioner, to keep a check on whether Goans were gambling at the casinos.

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Sawant had said that till the rules are notified, tourists will not be barred from entering the casinos however, action would be taken if Goans are caught gambling at the casinos. The act stipulates that the gaming commissioner has to issue a ‘tourist permit’, authorizing tourists to enter the areas reserved for gambling.

The gaming commissioner has the power to exercise complete control over the games conducted in the designated areas and is also authorized to maintain the records and documents related to the games.

The commissioner’s rights include ordering closure, sealing any casino in a five-star hotel, or taking custody of any casino vessel, and while exercising this power, the commissioner shall make an inventory of all the confiscated items.

A section of the people had allegedly been demanding a ban on casinos for a long time which was being voiced by the legislators in the House as many families had apparently gone bankrupt due to gambling addiction.

The state government had passed the amendment to the Goa Public Act, 1976 by introducing the Goa Public Gaming (Amendment) Bill in June 2012.

Interestingly, last week the Investment Promotion Board (IPB) gave its nod to 11 projects including the Entertainment City by Delta Corp at Dhargal.

The project is bound to not just improve infrastructure in Pernem, but also create jobs and give a much-needed shot in the arm to the Covid-impacted entertainment-led tourism and hospitality industry in the state.

The Board, under the chairmanship of chief minister Pramod Sawant, granted approval for the 100-acre project that comprises a casino, waterpark, resort, and multiplex. The mega project will be located just 5 km from the new Mopa airport.