Goa casinos to reopen from 20th September as government issues fresh Covid-19 guidelines
19th September 2021
Goa’s casinos are set to reopen from Monday for the first time since April following the second Covid-19 wave in the country. With the pandemic-related situation improving in the state, the Pramod Sawant-led BJP government has gradually opened up economic activity, however, the casino industry (along with nightclubs) remained shackled until now.
The Goa chief minister, on Saturday, said casinos would be open only for fully vaccinated people or those who have tested negative for Covid-19.
Sawant’s decision comes on the back of a recommendation by the State Expert Committee consisting of doctors and subject matter experts, who opined that it is safe to allow casinos to reopen with strict protocols and with limited capacity.
“Casinos can open from Monday at 50 percent capacity. The economy needs to be revived, it should start. It is not just the casino industry, but the hotel industry too. Tourism-related activities need to start,” Sawant said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during an interaction with leaders of the state and healthcare workers on Saturday, had nudged the government to resume all economic activity with 11.66 lakh people for a population of 15.5 lakh already vaccinated with the first dose.
Goa has six offshore casinos and about a dozen others at hotels, offering several employment opportunities for locals apart from generating sizeable revenues for the government. The temporary closure of casinos has not just dented the economy of the state but also impacted those working in tourist activities such as hotels, restaurants, and taxi services.
In an exclusive interview with G2G News, the director of Majestic Pride Casino, Shrinivas Nayak had highlighted how the casino industry in Goa has grown from being an add-on service in five-star hotels to an integral and indispensable part of leisure tourism in the state.
He further emphasized that until and unless the entertainment sector gains pace, the tourism industry in Goa will not regain its previous growth rate.
As per expert estimates, the state government earns around Rs 320 crore each year from license fees from casinos and about Rs 1,000 crore in taxes via allied activities.
Last month, a delegation comprising members of the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) met CM Pramod Sawant, requesting him to fully open up the entertainment sector.
With the state’s economy heavily reliant on the hospitality sector, the apex body representing hotel and travel trade in Goa made a representation to the Sawant to convey the economic distress the sector has witnessed since tourist footfalls have taken a hit due to casinos and cruises remaining shut.
Casino operators like Deltin have vaccinated 100% of their staff across all properties in anticipation of the government’s announcement. With a much-needed shot in the arm for the casino business in Goa, companies can now look forward to resuming business activity and undo economic damage that has ensued since the six months.