The BJP led Goa state government has faced a lot of flak during the last 12 months over its leadership and decision making on the state’s casino industry. Goa is one of the three states in India to allow casinos to operate and Goa is the only state that permits both land based and offshore casinos to provide gaming services.
The Congress led party has put pressure on the state government to re-locate all offshore casinos from the River Mandovi and chief minister Manohar Parrikar had given in to those demands asking the offshore casinos to plan to re-locate. However on March 31, the state government decided to renew all offshore casino licenses for a period of 12 months and also permitted them to operate on the River Mandovi for another year.
While this decision drew a lot of flak from both opposition and religious groups in the state, the state government explained their decision by stating that plans to re-locate these offshore casinos had failed due to administrative and technical reasons. The state government confirmed that these offshore casinos would continue to look for ‘calmer waters’ to move their offshore operations. Parrikar’s government also stated that one of the possible solutions being considered was to grant all these offshore casinos new licenses to re-locate their operations and convert into land based casinos.
These decisions have stirred up a lot of strife in the assembly as independent MLAs Naresh Sawal and Rohan Khaunte were not happy with the twelve month license renewal and were livid over the fact that the government was considering to move all of them onshore. The MLA’s stated that the present government were completely confused over their decision making process and were being influenced by the casino lobby.
The BJP government also drew flak from other MLAs as Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, the Curtorim MLA stated that he cannot accept the government’s excuse of administrative and technical issues for the failure to re-locate offshore casinos. He highlighted the fact that in 2012 Manohar Parrikar was part of a candlelight processing that demanded action against the casino industry but he now appears to have done a complete U-turn after coming to power.
In a statement, Lourenco state that Parrikar “had even alleged that the Congress leaders had taken money from the casinos operators, when he was in the opposition. Now, that his BJP government in place, why it cannot take a right decision and fulfill the promise”.
The state government has also received criticism for failing to elect a gaming commission even though the Goa Public Gambling (Amendment) Bill, 2012 has been unanimously approved.