Gambling is strictly regulated in India and is only authorized in the Goa and Sikkim regions. The only live dealer casinos that are permitted to operate are on the Mandovi river in Goa. The land based and floating casinos attract a large number of gamblers on a regular basis. Goa is one of the India’s biggest tourist’s hubs and attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world who tend to visit Goa’s casinos at night and enjoy the vibrant nightlife and entertainment at these casinos. A number of locals from neighboring states also visit Goa during peak tourist seasons and are very curious to visit an Indian based casino and play popular casino games such as poker, blackjack and rummy.
This constant traffic results in significant amounts of revenue for the casino as well as for the Indian government. Based on recent data published by the government, Goa’s casinos generate close to $20 million to the state’s treasury. The casino industry in Goa has the potential to significantly expand and generate even more revenue but is under threat from various elements in the government that want to shutdown the casino industry completely.
The BJP led government has strong ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical right wing and pro Hindu sect that has a strong influence over all BJP related decisions. Both the RSS and the BJP are against all forms of gambling as they consider it to be morally wrong and destructive to society.
Before the BJP government came to power in Maharashtra, the chief ministerial candidate Laxmikant Parsekar confirmed that he would get rid of all casinos in Goa and even ask the floating casino to move away from the shore and find another location. Parsekar has been in power for a number of months now but has not kept his promises regarding the removal of casinos in Goa.
The RSS has been less than impressed with Parsekar’s false promises and are pushing the BJP led government to take action soon and outlaw all forms of gambling. Some gaming analysts believe that the government is now reluctant to keep its promise and issue a blanket ban on casinos as it will lose a significant amount of revenue and could also affect Goa’s image as a tourist friendly state.
Parsekar has confirmed that as of now his government will not be granting any new licenses to casinos and will carefully consider the issuance of casino license renewals in the near future, while various reports say that the Goa casinos will move upriver. The present government’s flip-flops and conflicting reports in mainstream India media leave most observers wondering about the ultimate direction of the industry there.