In the small Indian state of Goa, Wednesday saw the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government grant a sixth offshore casino license after being given a 24-hour deadline by the Mumbai High Court.
Despite winning an outright majority in the last local elections of 2012 on the back of a promise to close all of the state’s floating and land-based casinos, the conservative government has now conceded defeat and given the license to local operator Golden Globe Hotels Private Limited.
The firm run by former government minister Gopal Kanda earlier revealed that its new floating casino is to be christened as the Casino Maharaja and will sit in the Mandovi River alongside the Deltin Royale, Deltin Jaqk and the Deltin Caravela from Delta Corporation Limited and Pride Group’s Casino Pride and Casino Carnival.
According to a report from The Times Of India newspaper, Golden Globe Hotels Private Limited filed a lawsuit against the Goan government alleging that it had yet to receive its casino license despite handing over $6.5 million for a five-year permit in September. The operator further contended that officials had failed to authorize a change-of-use petition for the selected vessel and issue it with the appropriate mooring permissions.
The Mumbai High Court, which is one of the second-highest courts in India, subsequently agreed with the plaintiff in January and ordered the Goan government to make a final decision within a four-week deadline, which expired last month amid continued legal arguments.
“The order was issued following the directive of the honourable [Mumbai] High Court to decide within 24 hours,” a source in the Home Affairs Ministry told news portal India.com.
However, the future of the coming Casino Maharaja remains far from secure as Goa is currently holding its latest round of local elections with the final results expected to be announced this weekend. Despite claims that the state’s casinos are responsible for approximately 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and help to attract at least some of the 2.9 million tourists that visit the area every year, the opposition Aam Aadmi Party and Indian National Congress parties have previously pledged not to renew any expired licenses if elected while the Bharatiya Janata Party publicly remains opposed to gambling.