The state of Goa in India makes a significant amount of its revenue from its vibrant tourism industry and one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state is the onshore and offshore casino industry. Only three Indian states have legalized casinos till date and they are Goa, Daman and Sikkim. Goa has the most number of casinos which provide the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government a major portion of revenue via gambling taxes and also generates thousands of employment opportunities for the locals.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and his administration have received a lot of criticism from the opposition party, the Indian National Congress and other religious groups in the state over their stance on the casino industry. Parsekar has been accused of taking the side of the lucrative casino industry after his administration made the decision early this year to renew the licenses of offshore casinos and also permit them to continue to operate on the Mandovi River.
The Indian National Congress has now called on the BJP government to ban advertisements in all forms that promote the casino industry. The Congress stated that it wanted an immediate ban as these advertisements would create a wrong mindset in the younger generation. The push to ban casino advertisements comes after casino operator, the Jaydev Modi-led group decided to acquire the Indian Soccer League’s (ISL) FC Goa football franchise. Football is extremely popular in Goa and ISL matches attract packed stadiums.
Luizinho Faleiro, the chief of the Goa Congress party stated that when children come to the stadium to watch a football match, they will now end up seeing casino advertisements since there is no law to prevent the new FC Goa franchise owners from advertising their casino. He went on to say that Goa had already banned advertisements promoting alcohol and tobacco related products and it was now time for the state government to immediately impose a ban on casino advertisements as well.
The Congress wants the casino industry to be shut down for good stating that it does more harm than good for the state. In a statement, Faleiro said “Congress party is firm on its decision that casinos should be moved out of the state…somewhere deep sea…but let us take public opinion on whether they need casinos in the state or not. We will go by what public says”.