Newly appointed Goa Ports and Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo told the vidhan sabha that the state government is not averse to shifting offshore casinos, currently housed in the River Mandovi near Panaji to the Aguada Bay.
Lobo was replying to a cut motion introduced by veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane to the demand of grant for ports for government failure to remove the offshore casinos out of the river.
Rane was supported by BJP MLA from Panaji, Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, NCP MLA Churchill Alemao, Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco and Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, all of whom demanded to know the plan and timelines on removal of offshore casinos from their existing location.
Replying to the cut motions to the demands on Ports, Lobo reportedly said,“The idea of shifting the casino vessel has been mooted by the Panjim MLA and I assure to study the matter and will also take him for a joint survey of the place.”
He added that while he is not averse to the idea of shifting casinos, the sole intention is that casino passengers should not be affected.
Monserrate on the other hand alleged that the state bureaucracy is patronising casinos and that the casino lobby seems to have privatised the jetties owned by the Captain of Ports and Fisheries Department to transport their visitors to the casino vessels in feeder boats.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has however maintained that he is studying the draft of a new casino policy mooted by his predecessor Manohar Parrikar that would potentially shift the offshore casinos to a designated entertainment zone on land and pave way for the appointment of a Gaming Commissioner to regulate the casino industry.
In reply to legislative queries in the past couple of weeks, Sawant merely stated that the matter is under examination and not given any timelines on deciding a definitive policy that will decide the future of offshore casinos in the state,