Goa government issues fresh one-year extension to offshore casinos operating in Mandovi river

Offshore casinos in Goa have been given an extension of twelve months to continue operating in the Mandovi river as the government is still identifying an alternative site for them.

While this is the first 12-month extension, according to government officials, the casinos have previously been granted a series of six-month extensions ever since they were first set up two decades ago.

Locals in Panaji have voiced concerns repeatedly for years that the casinos that draw throngs of tourists, cause traffic congestion on Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, the road connected to the riverfront.

In a press meet post the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant informed that till an alternative site is identified, the casinos would continue to operate from River Mandovi for another year.

“We have granted an extension from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022,” he said. 

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Sawant and his predecessors in the CM’s office have drawn flak for being unable to move the casinos out of Panaji despite repeated promises and extensions.

There are six offshore casinos operating in River Mandovi; namely MV Horseshoe Casino, MV Pride of Goa, MV Casino Royale, MV Argosy IV, MV Royale Flotel, and MV Lucky. 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.

The casinos on the Mandovi also pay entry fees and local taxes to the corporation of the city of Panaji and about Rs 25 lakh for licenses to the excise department. The excise department gets a consumption duty on every bottle of alcohol consumed in the casinos, government sources said.

Recently, Sawant had taken the decision to reopen the casino industry in the state under the new Covid-19 guidelines. 

In an exclusive interview with G2G News, the director of Majestic Pride Casino, Shrinivas Nayak had categorically stated that the casino industry in Goa is an integral part of leisure tourism in the state.

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He had stressed the fact that unless the entertainment sector gains pace, the tourism industry in Goa will not regain its previous growth rate.

It is well-known that Goa’s offshore casinos are far more popular among tourists than the onshore ones so moving them will definitely not be an easy task. The government will not only have to consider the stillness of water when deciding to move the vessels, but they will also have to identify feasible locations where these casinos can function just as smoothly.