Casinos in India are currently legalized only in Sikkim, Goa and Daman but in recent times a number of other states such as Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra have all expressed interest in discussing the legalization of the casino industry as the industry would bring in new investment, create thousands of jobs, increase tourism and provide the state government with significant revenue in the form of gaming taxes.
Now the bifurcated (split) state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) has been sought out by an Indian entrepreneur to develop a casino resort on an island located on the river Krishna. The state of Andhra Pradesh was split into two after the Parliament of India passed the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 and divided the state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Siva Prakash Bobba, who now resides in the United States, wants to develop an island resort that is similar to Sentosa Island in Singapore.
In a statement, Bobba said “I find one of the islands in the river Krishna very much suitable for setting up a casino. I’m planning to propose it to the government. The plan is also in tune with the government’s grand design of creating a replica of Sentosa amusement park of Singapore here.”
The AP state government plans to develop Bhavani island which is located near Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada. The main island has a number of sub-islands and the total area covers more than 130 acres and currently hosts a yacht club. The government has plans to develop the island and turn it into an amusement park which will be a major attraction in the state but so far no progress has been made on these plans.
Chief Consultant and Director, K. Lakshminarayana for the Andhra Pradesh Project Facilitators and Consultancy Services Limited (APPFCS) stated that apart from Bobba’s proposal, the state government has also received an additional six casino resort proposals but no progress has been made so far because getting approval for casinos to be legalized in the state is a difficult process as approval needs to be given by the Navy and the Centre. A Goan and Malaysian firm are among the six developers who have submitted proposals that are similar to Bobba’s proposal.
Government sources who preferred to be anonymous stated that two years earlier the government had also received a proposal to develop a casino near Visakhapatnam but no decision has been made till date. The Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974 prevents gambling in the state and legislators will first have to pass an amendment similar to the ones introduced in the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 before the state government will be able to approval any casino resort proposal.
MC Das, a management consultant, states that the casino industry will not be a priority for the state for the state government as of now as other priorities such as the underground drainage facilities in the state will have to be addressed first. Das also pointed out that casinos and gambling will not blend well with the social and cultural values of Vijayawada.