Goa yet to notify rules to prevent Goans from visiting Casinos

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The long-standing proposal to ban Goans from entering casinos is yet to see the light. First proposed in 2012, the ban on Goans entry provisions under the Goa Public Gambling Act, 1976 were notified after a long wait of 8 years i.e., in February 2020. “Goans will be banned from entering casinos. I have already moved the file. For now, the GST Commissioner can enter the casinos at any time and ask for an identity card if he suspects anyone to be a Goan,” said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in January 2020.

This October, the Goa bench of Bombay High Court upheld the law. Advocate General Devidas Pangam defending the law then said the law banning Goans from visiting onshore and offshore casinos is to prevent them from its ‘vices.’ However, nearly after two months since the judgement, the government has still not notified rules to implement the law and the mechanism to check if locals are actually visiting the casinos.

There have been instances of locals becoming bankrupts by visiting the casinos for gambling. In one such case, as reported by Herald Goa, a woman government employee has complained of domestic violence citing her husband is coercing her to sign a document for the sale of their apartment. “The husband is a regular gambler to the casinos resulting in bankruptcy and violence. He has been forcing his wife to sign a document so that he could sell the apartment jointly owned by them, to use the money to pay off his debts,” women activist Sabina Martins was quoted by Herald Goa. “Politicians have a share because they are neither shutting it down nor debating with the anti-casino activists. There is no acceptance to casinos in Goa. We may be tolerant but our patience will soon run out,” she was quoted saying.

In the latest incident, an extortion gang has kidnapped the niece of a Karnataka man who won Rs 50 lakh through a casino. Recently, a Karnataka minister said he wants casinos in Uttara Kannada district bordering Goa to attract tourists. The proposal received ire from Kannada activists.

Last Saturday, G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of Tourism said Goa is considered as the ‘casino capital’ of India and the union government can formally declare if there is a demand. Reddy’s comments created a furore with TMC, AAP, NSUI terming the BJP government as backed by the casino industry.