There are currently only three states in India that permit gambling and the state of Goa has the biggest gambling industry with a total of 15 casinos, 4 of them offshore on the Mandovi River. It is estimated that a combined total of 15,000 visitors go to Goa’s casinos on a daily basis and a number of these visitors are locals who generally visit Goa to have a little gambling fun.
There has been a lot of debate from political parties within India about imposing a blanket ban on gambling as these groups and factions believe it is an evil to society bringing more harm than good. The state government which belongs to the BJP has faced pressure from its opposition party, the Indian National Congress who want the government to ban gambling and not renew any gambling licenses going forward.
The state government has so far resisted the urge to ban the gambling industry as it generates around $30 million in revenue for the state government and also provides the thriving tourism industry in Goa with a vibrant nightlife as these casinos offer both locals and tourists an opportunity to gamble, enjoy lavish buffets, live music and a cruise along the Mandovi river.
It now appears that the state government might finally be yielding to the constant pressure as there were rumors of passing a new law that would prevent locals from entering the casino. The new law if passed would make it mandatory for casinos to conduct proof of residence and identity checks to ensure that visitors are above 21 years and are not residents of India. The home department has already made a draft proposal with these rules and has got informal approval from the state government and need final approval from the law department.
The new draft rules states that “Once the law department vets the rules, the file would be put up for cabinet approval. The permit will be issued based on the identity proof — PAN card, licence, aadhaar card, etc — provided by the person who wants to gamble at a casino.”
The state government has made it clear that if this law gets rolled out it would not impact the thousands of Goans who are employed within these casinos. The draft law also calls for a special independent gaming commissioner to be appointed to monitor and regulate all the casinos present in the state.
These new changes do not appear to have satisfied anti-gambling organizations and parties who believe that banning only a section of the local population will not address any specific issue and still prefer for a blanket ban to be rolled out.