The Goa cabinet has decided to grant yet another six month extension to offshore casinos in the state to shift from the River Mandovi, where they are currently situated.
The decision was taken by the state cabinet through circulation. According to news reports, initially, a cabinet meeting was set to be held at ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s private residence, yesterday. However, the meeting was cancelled at the last minute without citing any reason and thereafter the cabinet took the decision to give the extension through circulation of papers.
According to the cabinet decision, offshore casinos will be given six more months, i.e. time upto 30th September, 2019 to shift out of the Mandovi river. As per the decision, the casinos will have to submit an unconditional undertaking, that they will shift the casinos out of River Mandovi whenever an alternate feasible site is finalized by the government or by 30th September, 2019, whichever is earlier.
The plan to shift casinos out of the Mandovi river has been doing the rounds since August 2014 and the state government has granted continuously granted six month extensions to casino companies to shift to an alternative location.
A similar decision to grant a six-month extension to offshore casinos was taken by the Parrikar-led cabinet in September 2018.
In August 2018, Parrikar had informed the Goa legislative assembly that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government was working on a plan to unveil a new casino policy that would shift the offshore casinos to a designated land area within the state by the end of August 2018.
The Chief Minister had further informed the house that 10-15 year licenses will be given to casino companies who shift their operations out of the River Mandovi, keeping in mind the large investment they would be making to develop casino projects on land.
He had also stated that a gaming commissioner would be appointed soon to keep a watch on the casino operations. Further, he had given an assurance that from January 2019, Goans will not be allowed on casinos, as the Government intends to restrict the entry of locals.
Till date, the state government has been unable to notify and formulate the state’s casino policy and meet the timelines for implementing the changes in casino regulations, presumably due to Parrikar’s ailing health.