Goa government not ready to restart casinos amid Covid-19

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CM Pramod Sawant clarified on Monday that the state of Goa is not planning to reopen casinos in lieu of the raging Covid-19 pandemic. He said, “till now, there is no decision on restarting casino operations in the state.”

The state government also extended the curfew till the 16th of August, 2021. This stringency is a measure to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with no extra relaxations.

Currently, the state has six offshore casinos and a number of onshore casinos functioning in the state. From the last three months, all casinos have been shut down. However, the government had allowed restaurants and bars to operate till 11 pm with only 50% seating capacity.

The revised curfew orders have not had any impact on casinos, river cruises, spa and massage parlors, auditoriums, cinema halls, and multiplexes. Even coaching institutes have not been allowed to reopen except for carrying out government-approved competitive examinations.

Furthermore, a negative RT-PCR report has been made mandatory for those entering from Kerala.

Goa to amend its Gambling Act to impose more stringent fines on casinos

The state government of Goa has decided to impose heavy fines on any casino found violating the Goa Gambling Act, reports the Times of India. In case of heavy violations, the punishment can even turn into imprisonment. The government is ready to introduce this bill in the next assembly session that commences next week. 

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Currently, there are six offshore casinos and dozens of onshore casinos in Goa.

According to a senior official, the earlier fine was very nominal but the new bill will impose heavy fines. However, the nature of the fines has not been listed in the bill. Currently, there are six offshore casinos in Goa and a number of onshore casinos. Furthermore, the bill will amend Sections 3, 4, and 11 of the Act that deals with fines and imprisonment.

A cabinet note stated, “the quantum of fine payable under the penal provisions of Section 3, 4 and 11, being meager, needs enhancement. And on account of the same, the offenses punishable under the said sections will be either imprisonment or fine or both.”

The Goa Gambling Act was enacted in 1976 when Goa was a Union Territory. Later, on 30 May 1987, Goa was conferred with the status of a state. Upon approval of the bill, the cabinet will omit the expression ‘Daman and Diu’ and ‘Union Territory’ with this amendment.

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The state government had notified the Goa Public Gaming (Amendment) Act, 2012, to ban the entry of Goans in the six offshore and nine onshore casinos from February 1, 2020.

Under this amendment, the government appointed the commissioner of commercial tax as a gaming commissioner to take note and see whether any Goan is gambling in the said casinos