Goa’s floating casinos have been under constant pressure to relocate from the Mandovi river and were given time till March 31, 2016 to relocate. The floating casinos were unable to find a proper relocation site and as a result the state government decided to extend the relocation timeframe till March 31, 2017.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and his government received a lot of criticism for being lenient towards the casino industry but Parsekar justified his extension request on the basis that these floating casinos provide thousands of jobs to the locals and generate significant revenue for the state government in the form of gambling taxes and tourism revenue and hence could not be forced into finding a relocation site.
There are four offshore casinos that currently operate on the Mandovi river. They are the M V Boa Sorte of Ms Golden Peace Infrastructure Ltd, M V Horseshoe Casino of Ms Delta Corporation Ltd, M V Casino Royale of Ms Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Private Limited and M V Pride of Goa of Ms Goa Costal Resorts and Recreation Pvt Ltd. The M V Royale Deltin which is fifth offshore casino was operating near the Chorao Island is also in the process of relocating to the River Mandovi.
The companies that own these offshore casinos met with the Captain of Ports on April 30th to discuss possible relocation sites and a total of four sites were proposed. The four alternative sites proposed were the Zuari river, Chapora river, Tiracol river and Aguada bay but all four sites were rejected by the companies.
Dilip Parulekar, the minister for Captain of Ports informed the state assembly that the companies rejected the Zuari river site because it was situated very close to the Mormugao Port Trust and numerous maintenance and barge repair yards; the Chapora and Tiracol river sites due to the fact that they would have to invest close to 100 crore rupees to develop a jetty, parking lots, ticket counter facilities and carry out costly and on-going dredging work and the Aguada bay site due to the rough weather conditions in the bay. The companies that own these offshore casinos also sent a letter to the Captain of Ports stating that they wanted to continue to operate on the Mandovi river.
The letter said “We further wish to bring to your kind notice that casino vessels are operating in river Mandovi since 1998. In past 18 years there has not been single problem arising due to casino industry or casino vessel. We find no good reason to disturb the industry and relocate them from existing position. All the apprehension raised by various persons and political parties have been dealt with properly on due legal forum like National Green Tribunal and Goa bench of the Bombay High Court.”