A copy of newly drafted rules drawn up by the state home ministry has been received by the Home Department of Goa. The new rules that will likely take effect on April 1, will prevent individuals under 21 years of age, as well as Goan locals, from frequenting Goan casinos.
In 2012, the 1976 Goa Public Gambling Act was amended to ban youth and locals from entering casinos, but the necessary regulations were never developed to implement the act, subsequently the ban was never enforced.The establishment of an independent Gaming Commissioner that would oversee the local gaming industry is also among the provisions of the rules. The Goa law department has now reviewed the rules, and if they stand up to judicial scrutiny, could be in place by the beginning of the next fiscal year. In November of last year, the Times of India quoted home secretary Sanjiv Gadkar saying the draft rules had been approved by is department that would bar local residents from entering casinos, as well as anyone under 21 years of age, regardless of their place of residency.
Gadkar said, if and when the new rules take effect, every person entering a Goa casino would be required to provide proof of residence and identity via passport or other government-issued ID. The state then would issue a “tourist permit” authorizing casino access. Gadkar noted that the changes would not be applicable to residents who are employed by the casinos.The state’s casino industry has faced some criticism from a section of society that claims the sector is turning underage individuals into gamblers.
Goa is one of only three Indian states where casino gambling is permitted. Of the state’s 15 gaming operations, four are located on boats on the Mandovi river, and collectively, they attract approximately 15 thousand visitors per day. That figure however, is likely to decrease once the new rules are in effect. The offshore casino market in Goa is dominated by the Pride Group and the Deltin Group. The latter’s casinos have higher entry fees and are particularly popular with players of western games. The former’s casinos have lower entry fees and cater more to the masses and the Indian market. An estimated $30 million annually in taxes and levies on Goa’s casino industry contribute to the government’s coffers, but they’re existence remains a controversal subject in the state. By law, onshore casinos are only permitted to have electronic games and on March 31 the casino licenses for the four floating casinos permitted to offer live table games, expire.