India’s only publicly traded casino operator has reportedly seen the value of its shares plummet after news emerged earlier this week that the nation’s government may soon be about to begin the long-rumored process of merging the small union territory of Daman and Diu into the large state of Gujarat.
According to a report from The Economic Times newspaper, Monday trading ended with individual shares in Mumbai-listed Delta Corporation Limited worth about $2.76, which represents an over 18% fall since they recorded a 52-week high of $3.37 on April 5.
Along with Goa, Daman And Diu had been part of Portugal’s overseas empire for over 450 years until they were forcibly annexed by India via military action in December of 1961. Although Goa was granted statehood in 1987, the 39 square miles of Daman And Diu is still officially classed as a union territory with its 243,000 residents governed direct from New Delhi.
The Economic Times reported that the former Portuguese enclaves with their more relaxed laws on gambling and alcohol have become an important market for Delta Corporation Limited as it operates the floating Deltin Caravela, Deltin Royale and Deltin Jaqk in Goa while Daman And Diu is home to its five-star Deltin Daman property, which has long been promising to inaugurate a casino offering some 1,200 gaming positions.
However, the newspaper reported that the sale of alcohol is banned in Gujarat as is gambling and the merger of the coastal Daman And Diu with its much larger neighbor, which was an idea first seriously proposed in 2015 by former government minister Haribhai Chaudhary, could see Delta Corporation Limited lose a considerable chunk of its business overnight.
“The merger of Daman And Diu with Gujarat could weigh on casino operations in the union territory,” one unidentified Mumbai-based broker told The Economic Times. “Even the ban on liquor in most states is sentiment negative for gambling and hotel companies as it could hit foreign tourism.”
The newspaper reported that more news on whether Daman And Diu will be merged with Gujarat is expected on April 17 when Indian prime minister Narendra Modi makes an official visit to the territory.