Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ban locals from accessing the state’s casinos and shifting of offshore casinos to a designated gaming/entertainment zone in the state.
Sawant made the remarks while replying to a discussion on the budget performance of the Home Department.
Independent MLA and former Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte questioned the government’s stance on shifting offshore casinos.
Khaunte sought to know the policy of the present Pramod Sawant-led government to shift off shore casinos out of River Mandovi, which was the commitment of former Chief Minister and Sawant’s predecessor Manohar Parrikar.
He pointed out that Parrikar had come out with a plan to shift the off shore casinos onshore by identifying a designated area. Khaunte said that Parrikar was supposed to come out with a policy by September 2018, to convert off shore casinos into onshore. “But, unfortunately he fell ill and the policy never took shape,” he stated.
“Today we are on the other side and hence we want to know from the incumbent CM, the policy for shifting the off shore casinos out of river Mandovi , which was a commitment of Parrikar to his people,” he added.
Sawant while responding to the remarks made by MLAs such as Churchill Alemao, Alexio Reignaldo Lourenco, Glen Ticlo and Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate reportedly stated, “I am in agreement with the sentiments of the MLAs that Goans should not be allowed on the casinos. There are some tourists who come to Goa only for casinos.”
He added, “The act (anti-gambling act) is in place, however, the date for the ban on entry of Goans has not been announced and therefore after studying the act, very soon I will announce the date and take all (MLAs) into confidence while doing so. Establishing of the gaming zone and entertainment zone is in the process and it will be announced all together.”
The Chief Minister told the house that the Goa state government had collected Rs. 411 crores as revenue from the casino industry in the state in the financial year 2018-19.
He further informed the house that 564 Goans and 877 non-Goans are employed in the six offshore casino and eight onshore casinos in the state.
Goa’s Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who assumed office earlier this year had till now maintained an ambivalent stance on the future of casinos, stating in media interviews that he would take time to form his opinion and informing the legislative assembly that the matter was still under examination of the government, without giving any definitive timelines by which the changes would be brought into effect.