Effective from April 1, 2018, casino operators in Goa will be subject to substantial fee hikes which are applicable to both floating casinos on the Mandovi River and land-based gaming facilities in the western Indian state.
The Nahvind Times reports that the state government on Monday approved a revised fee structure that will see the Goa casino industry subject to levies for the financial year 2018-19, which are 2.5 to 4.5 times greater than the hikes casinos dealt with the same time last year.
To begin with, renewal of an operating license by a current casino operator will cost Rs10m (US$154,000) up from last year’s fee of Rs3m. Additionally, the security deposit for license renewal will now cost Rs1m compared with Rs2.5m charged last year.
A sliding scale is utilized to calculate annual recurring fees for both land-based and floating casinos, with fees for venues occupying a less than 100-square-meter area increasing from Rs40m to Rs100m. Recurring fees for casinos that occupy upwards of 1k square meters have been raised to Rs400m ($6.16m) from Rs85m.
Recurring fees for floating casinos are based on capacity, with fees for vessels that have a 200 and under passenger capacity increased from Rs100m to Rs250m. Vessels having a passenger capacity of 400-plus are subject to a staggering increase, with the fee increasing from Rs120m to Rs400m.
Also increasing exponentially is the fee to transfer a land-based casino license, as the fee triples to Rs300m from Rs100m. The transfer fee for floating casinos, meanwhile, will increase from Rs200m to Rs500m. Similarly, license application fees will increase from Rs200m to Rs500m, with the nonrefundable security deposit costing an additional Rs500m.
The latest increase marks the fourth consecutive year casino fees were raised in India and a good indicator of the government’s wish to eradicate gambling there altogether. Last year, when interviewed on state-sanctioned DD News, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar reportedly said that he believes that gambling is “not good” and if possible should be “removed from the state.”
Predictably, the government is also expected to grant another extension to Goa’s floating casinos to relocate from the Mandovi River to a new permanent location. What is expected to be a minimum one-year extension, on the fast-approaching expiry of the last extension occurs on Saturday.
In September last year, a six-month extension was approved by the government, which was preceded by the same in March 2017 and was the third consecutive extension received by the floating casinos, after the first extension from April 2015 was prolonged with another one-year extension.
The news agency reports that technically, the government has to extend the offshore casino licenses and that a decision by the cabinet in that regard may be approaching soon, presumably in keeping with the government’s plan to move all offshore casinos to land by July 2020.