As expected, Goa’s six offshore licensees have been given another extension before having to relocate from their current home in the Mandovi river.
According to The Times of India, operators including Delta Corp Ltd, Goa Coastal Resorts and Recreation Pvt Ltd, Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment, Golden Peace Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Delta Pleasure Cruise Company and the Golden Globe Hotels Private Limited-owned Big Daddy Casino, on Wednesday were given a six-month reprieve by the Goa government, which will take them through September.
Still in the drafting stage, earlier discussions regarding the Manohar Parrikar-government’s casino policy reportedly indicate that the cabinet was inclined to choose Mopa, a village in Pernem, Goa, as a new home for the offshore casinos. The news agency reports that Mopa is the site of an under-construction international airport.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had reportedly initially promised a December unveiling of the new policy, but later said that it would be released during the February-March budget session.
The extension comes on the heels of the massive hike in the licensing fees of both off-shore and land-based casinos. The 2018-19 financial year fees are reportedly 2.5 to 4.5 times greater than the hikes casinos dealt with the same time last year.
This is the fourth consecutive year casino fees have been raised in India, with the news agency reporting that casino operators said that the new licensing fees would not only make survival difficult for operations but would also have a ripple effect on tourism and the state’s economy.
Liaison officer of Maharaja casino (Golden globe hotels private ltd), Damodar Bhatkar, reportedly said, “The massive hike will drastically impact not only the casino business but also the tourism industry.” He told TOI that over the years the state’s casino industry has grown substantially and is now tourism oriented. He added that the hike would also have an impact on employment.
Agitated by the home department-issued order, an informal meeting of the casino operators on Wednesday reportedly resulted in a decision to submit a memorandum to the government “seeking review of the fees,” said Shrinivas Nayak, director of Casino Pride, according to TOI
Asia Gaming Brief reports that Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said in a note,“The government, in its plans to move to land based casinos, is ratcheting up the license fees now as a prelude to the law’s implementation to effectively put the existing land-based small-scale electronic casinos out of business and thus clean up the market in advance of true IRs.”