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Gaming

Delta Corp announces its new onshore casino in Goa, no word on Daman operations yet

Delta Corp, Goa’s largest casino company announced that it had obtained a license to operate an onshore casino in its resort ‘Deltin Suites’ in Nerul, Goa.  In its filing to the stock exchanges yesterday, the company stated that it will offer various games such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette in the five-star resort to offer a complete entertainment package to its guests.

Currently, Delta Corp operates two onshore casinos- Deltin Jaqk and Deltin Royale while a third one is undergoing renovation. Apart from the casinos run by Delta Corp there are two other offshore casinos operated by Pride Group that offering live games and around nine onshore casinos in five-star hotels offering electronic games. The current license granted to Deltin Suites will take the number of operational onshore casinos in double digits.

Delta Corp has however not given any information on whether or not its resort in Daman is likely to start operations anytime soon. It may be noted that the company has time and again announced that it was planning to start casino operations in the union territory very soon, but has not given any information to its investors about the progress made in obtaining regulatory clearances. In March last year, they started the Daman Deltin Resort with all other facilities except the casino.

Since then, company officials have declined to comment on the expected timelines for launch of casino operations in the resort or the exact difficulties faced by them. However, it is believed that the company has faced difficulties in obtaining the necessary regulatory clearances and licenses for commencing casino activities in the union territory.

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Gaming

Karnataka exploring the option of allowing offshore casinos

A recent report in The Times of India indicates that the Congress-led Karnataka government may be amenable to allowing offshore casinos in the state’s territorial waters to compete with Goa’s tourism industry. According to unnamed sources quoted by news reports, the Karnataka government is exploring two options to allow offshore casinos: the first option is to have a 3 day-4 night cruise ship from Mangaluru to different parts of the state. The second option is to allow casino vessels to be permanently stationed on the coast of either Karwar Belekeri, Tadri, Malpe, Old and New Mangaluru ports in the state.

On the record however, Principal Secretary (Tourism), Pradeep Singh Kharola is said to have denied any plan to permit casinos. However other sources suggest that the casino plan could be mooted during the Invest Karnataka 2016 event that the state government is slated to organise in February next year.

Karnataka joins a long list of states that are or have toyed with the idea of allowing casinos. Andhra Pradesh is said to be mulling a proposal to permit offshore casinos near Visakhapatnam city. States like Punjab, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Meghalaya etc. have also mulled over the idea but most of the proposals were shelved due to socio-political concerns. Maharashtra had passed a legislation allowing casinos way back in 1976, under the stewardship of Congress Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan, but the law has not been implemented yet. The Bombay High Court has given the current government time till March 2016 to decide on the implementation of the law.

Karnataka Home Minister KJ George had made a statement in the legislative assembly in July this year indicating that a strong law to curb the menace of betting would be introduced. Interestingly however, George has been removed as the Home Minister recently and Dr. G Parameshwara has been given charge of the Home Department.

The term of the current Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is till 2018, leaving plenty of time to implement the casino proposal, if he desires to do so. It may be noted that legislation allowing casinos both in Goa as well as Maharashtra was passed by Chief Ministers belonging to the Congress party. As of now, there are more than half a dozen poker clubs operating in Bengaluru by virtue of a Karnataka High Court order directing the police not to interfere in the activities of poker clubs.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Goa government finally frames draft rules to keep locals and those below 21 out of casinos

As per a report in The Times of India, the Goa Home Department seems to have initiated the process of framing draft rules for appointment of an independent Gaming Commissioner to oversee casinos and bar locals as well as those below 21 years of age from entering casinos. Additional Secretary (Home) Sanjiv Gadkar confirmed to Times of India that draft rules have been formulated and that they have been sent to the Law Department for their comments.

Gadkar added that after the Law Department vets the rules, they would be sent to the cabinet for its approval and thereafter they would be finally notified. The draft Rules seem to clearly bar locals and those below 21 years from entering casinos and require tourists to provide their identity and address proof like Aadhar card, Passport or PAN card before being granted a ‘tourist permit’ to enter casinos.

The current version of the Rules also seem to suggest that Goans found gambling in casinos would be prosecuted under the criminal provisions of the Goa, Daman & Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 and would be deemed to be participating in a ‘common gaming house’. Further, the Rules also provide for conditions of appointment and terms of service of an independent authority, i.e. a Gaming Commissioner, who would be tasked with issuing tourist permits and regulating the nature of games played in casinos and overall activities of the gaming industry.

It may be noted that the Goa legislative assembly had passed amendments to the Goa, Daman & Diu Public Gambling Act in 2012 to bar locals from entering casinos and allow formation of an independent regulator, but the government has so far shied away from framing rules and  implementing the stringent provisions of the new law, which casino industry observers term as harsh.

The entire process of consultation and cabinet approval of the Rules could take up to six months or a year, in case the government does not put the draft rules in cold storage. An option for the casino industry would be to challenge the constitutional validity of the Act and Rules before the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court on the grounds that there is no intelligible differentia and reasonable nexus to create a distinction between locals and non-locals. However, given the consistent stand of the government that casinos have been allowed only to promote tourism, it would be unlikely that such a challenge on grounds of right to equality and arbitrariness would be sustained.

It remains to be seen if the casino industry manages to sustain itself if these new set of rules are implemented in right earnest as already there have been reports in the media that the industry is not performing upto expectations and is feeling the pressure due to lack of growth prospects.

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Business Gaming

Punjab government to start online lottery schemes in a bid to generate Rs.150 crore+ revenue

Undeterred by the recent Supreme Court judgment which passed certain adverse but non-binding strictures against online lotteries, the Punjab government through a press release announced its intention to start online lottery schemes in a bid to generate revenues for various welfare schemes.

According to media reports and a press release issued by the Directorate of State Lotteries, the Punjab government intends to earn at least Rs. 150 crores annually through the sale of online lottery tickets. Divulging details about revenues from lotteries, the Lotteries Department in the press release also noted that the state exchequer has earned over Rs. 615 crores through lottery sales till date, which have been used for social schemes to aid the poor and downtrodden.

Most states that allow paper lotteries also conduct online draws, including states like Maharashtra, Goa, Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram etc. Punjab government currently conducts two weekly draws and some bumper lottery draws. It remains to be seen however if this latest proposal of the Punjab government takes off, especially since the earlier tenders issued by the government in 2014 for online lottery distribution found no takers due to the high minimum assured bank guarantee and other stringent conditions.

Punjab has always toyed the idea of having allowing various forms of gaming activities in the state in a bid to boost revenues to fund its various agricultural and other subsidies, but somehow its plans have not achieved much success.

It may be noted that in 2012, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal mooted a proposal to allow casinos in Ludhiana district in the state, but the plan had to be shelved due to opposition from religious and social groups. Another Bill passed by the legislative assembly to allow licensed race courses and betting on horse races also seems to have gathered dust as there has been no further progress on the implementation of the proposal. However, the decision to allow online lotteries will still be seen as a significant positive step by gaming industry observers, though as they say, the devil is in the details.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Maharashtra government directed to decide on implementation of Casinos Act within six months

The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to take a reasoned stand on whether it intends to implement a four decade old legislation, the Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976 within six months in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

A division bench of the High Court comprising of Justices VM Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi while disposing off a PIL filed for implementation of the Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976- in terms of petitioner Jay Sayta’s prayer no. (b) noted that the petitioner was at liberty to approach the court with a fresh petition in case he was not satisfied with the state governments efforts.

The PIL was filed as non-implementation of the will of the legislature due to executive oversight or inaction is a matter of grave concern and goes against the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and legislative supremacy.The government is expected to comply with the order of the High Court and expeditiously decides as to whether it will implement the Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976;  failing which it will be open for the petitioner to file a fresh petition (including contempt petition) against the state government.

Mihir Desai, Senior Counsel and  Gaurav Mehta, Advocate appeared for the petitioner and were briefed by solicitor Anirudh Hariani of Hariani & Co.

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Gaming

Arunachal Pradesh becomes latest state to permit lotteries

The North-Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh has become the latest jurisdiction to restart lottery schemes. According to well-placed sources, the Arunachal Pradesh government has started new lottery schemes for generating revenues for various schemes and has permitted distributors to market various lottery schemes with effect from September 2015.

With the addition of Arunachal Pradesh, a total of nine states and one autonomous territory  currently permit either online or paper lotteries or both. Maharashtra, Mizoram, Sikkim, Goa, Nagaland, Punjab, Kerala and West Bengal operate lottery schemes at present. With the exception of Kerala, all other states operate their lottery schemes through authorised distributors.

It is believed that sale of lottery tickets is a major source of revenue, especially for fund-starved North-Eastern states and a portion of lottery collections are used for various social schemes such as education, housing, agriculture, promotion of sports etc.  Experts estimate that the total annual turnover from states where lotteries are legal  is over Rs. 20,000 crores.

It may be noted that as per the Lotteries (Regulation) Act, 1998, lotteries have to be conducted only by the state governments and not by private parties. State governments are free to either permit or prohibit sale of lotteries. However, state governments which conduct their own lotteries cannot ban the sale of lottery tickets from other states within their territorial jurisdictions.

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Gaming

Everything you need to know about online rummy [Sponsored]

If you are a rummy enthusiast or just want to know more about the game, this article will help you out in getting an in depth knowledge. In this article, we have included the legality of playing rummy in India, rummy rules as well as how to play rummy if you are an amateur. Let’s start with the legality of rummy as that is what every rummy game enthusiast is worried about since the time the game went online.

In an order dated 13th August 2015, Supreme Court has overruled Madras High Court verdict saying online rummy for cash is not gambling but a game of skills. The rule will also allow you to play on your favorite online rummy website without any concern of legal issues as only games of chance falls into the category of gambling. If you were cynical whether to play or not because of the same, this is the best time to create your account and start playing online rummy.

Now getting to the rummy rules, if you are a new player, you need to know rules of the game that makes this game of skills so exciting. The game is played with 2 to 6 players with standard 52 cards deck. If more than 2 players are playing, two decks are used. According to rummy rules, the game starts when the dealer starts dealing 13 cards to each player.

The objective of the game is to make melds (sets or sequences) from the cards in your hand. You can make melds easily by using Joker cards but a pure sequence (a sequence without Joker or wildcard) is compulsory while you declare.

If you are concerned about how to play rummy, after the dealer deals you the card, you have to play strategically and discard the cards that won’t help you make sets or sequences and pick a card on each turn which will increase your hand strength. For instance, if you don’t have good hand at the start of the game, you can use your wildcards or Joker cards skillfully so that you can declare the game with a minimum of one pure sequence.

If you want to learn the basic rummy rules, join any online rummy website and practice your skills on free tables. Most of the rummy websites nowadays provide a quick overview on rules of the game as well as tips and tricks on how to play rummy. Also, don’t forget to claim your free welcome bonus when you join any of these websites.

Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored post and does not reflect the views or opinions of the authors of this website. Readers may treat this as an advertorial. 

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

J & K Deputy CM indicates willingness to permit casinos in the state

Jammu & Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh while on tour in Goa on 3rd September had some surprising words of encouragement for the gaming industry. Singh said that his government would consider emulating Goa’s casino model to boost tourism, although it is not a “priority” at the moment. Singh’s off-the-cuff remarks could be dismissed as a preposterous and unworkable suggestion by many, but if implemented successfully could actually give a much needed boost to the state’s tourism industry.

Kashmir currently attracts more than 1.4 million tourists annually with most visitors traveling to the pristine towns of Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg. Casinos if permitted could boost the state’s economy and give the government much needed funds to restore normalcy to the Kashmir-valley which was ravaged with disastrous floods last year.

Jammu & Kashmir is currently governed by a coalition of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), two political formations which are ideologically and philosophically opposite. The government runs on a Common Minimum Programme (CMP). The CMP pledges to support and develop the state as a global tourism hub and therefore Singh’s statement welcoming the casino industry in the state seem to be in sync with the broad parameters of the alliance.

It may be noted that currently the Jammu & Kashmir Public Gambling Act, 1977 prohibits all forms of gaming in ‘common gaming houses’ in India’s northern most state, which enjoys special status under the Indian constitution. Minor amendments to this legislation would be required if the state government intends to regulate and license casinos. Maharaja Hari Singh, the erstwhile ruler of the Himalayan state had once remarked that Kashmir is the ‘Switzerland of the East’ due to its stunning natural beauty. Adding the thrill of Las Vegas to this Switzerland of the East, could well make it the most sought after tourist destination in the glob

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Gaming

Goa government extends deadline for shifting offshore casinos to March 2016 + orders closure of 2 onshore casinos

In a u-turn of sorts, the Goa cabinet extended the deadline of shifting offshore casinos from River Mandovi to 31st March, 2016.  It may be remembered that in 2012 the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised to remove offshore casinos from River Mandovi and shift them into the Arabian Sea. In 2013,conditional five-year license was granted to offshore casinos stating that they would be allowed continue operations only if  they shift out of River Mandovi within two years. The cabinet had also taken a decision in August 2013 to limit the number of offshore casinos to five.

In pursuance of these decisions, the state home department had informed the media in June this year that all casinos would have to shift out of Mandovi river by December 2015 (which is the expiry date of the two-year deadline for the last casino vessel), failing which they would not be allowed to continue operations. However, the government has given last minute relief to casino operators as tomorrow (29th August) is the date of expiry of the two-year deadline for Deltin Jaqk. While the government identified four alternate locations; Rivers Chapora, Sal, Zuari and Aguada Bay in June this year, they invited objections and suggestions from members of the general public only this month. The government seems to have taken a decision to not shift casinos since various objections were received on shifting them and no feasible alternative location could be identified.

In a related development, the home department ordered the closure of two onshore casinos at O’ Hotel in Candolim and Bogmallo Beach Resort in Bogmallo, as the five star certification of the two casinos was withdrawn. As per provisions of the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, license for operating electronic games can only be awarded to five star hotels. It is understood that the two hotels will be allowed to restart casino operations if they are awarded five star certification again. The total number of operational onsh0re casinos in Goa at present is nine while four offshore casinos currently carry out operations in River Mandovi.

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Gaming

Feature: Senior Sikkim opposition leader Navraj Gurung discusses his party's stand on casinos, online gaming and lotteries

Navraj Gurung, senior leader and  General Secretary of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), the principal opposition party in Sikkim has followed the casino and gaming industry in the state very closely. He has been at the forefront of demanding a ban on entry of locals to casinos and says that his party will strictly ban entry of locals to casinos and will consider disallowing lotteries if it comes to power. SKM is headed by PS Golay, who was earlier part of the ruling party Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and currently has 10 out of 32 MLAs in the legislative assembly.

In this exclusive interview, Gurung throws light on his party’s stand on the issue of lotteries and gaming and the road ahead for Sikkim’s casinos and lottery operators:

Q. Sikkim is a state which allows lotteries, casinos and now online gaming, the first state in India to allow all three forms of gambling. These three bring a lot of revenue to the state. What is the stand of SKM on all these three activties? Does your party wish to ban all three or allow it with some conditions?

Navraj Gurung (NG): Yes, Sikkim both before and after becoming the 22nd state of India depended on the government of India for funds. Sikkim a land locked state had very little means for revenue generation. Although gambling remained a crime in the Chogyal era but soon after its merger the state looked upon lotteries as means for revenue generation. Revenue from gambling seemed ok as no other options were available then. Till we become a self sufficient state we may have to depend on revenue generation from gambling but along with it SKM feels that the local population should be kept away from it.

Navraj Gurung, General Secretary, SKM
Navraj Gurung, General Secretary, SKM
Q. The Sikkim assembly recently passed the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Amendment, Bill. Can you give some details about the Bill and your party’s stand on the issue of online gaming?
NG: SKM has been against the Amendment Bill tabled during the budget session 2015. The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act 2008 had already been passed in the assembly when there were no opposition in the legislative assembly. The Act had defined online gambling and made rules and regulations for gambling online. But since the Act contravenes with the Public Gambling Act 1867, the Union Home Ministry on April 2014 wrote to the state finance department seek clarification on the same.

This is why The Sikkim Online gaming (Regulation) Amendment Bill 2015 was placed during the recently concluded Budget Session. In the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Amendment Bill 2015, changes have been made in Sec 3 sub section 2 wherein the word “internet websites” has been replaced with “intranet” and the word “online gaming websites” replaced as “intranet gaming terminal.” This means that the gaming terminals can be connected to the servers via cable connection there by allowing gaming terminals open up in all corners of the state thus affecting the local population. SKM was against the  Amendment Bill 2015 as the Bill had the potential to affect locals with the ills of gambling.

Q.  As per media reports, CM Pawan Chamling recently announced that casinos are not meant for locals and that he accepts your leader PS Golay’s suggestion that some rules can be introduced to ban locals. Since you are at the forefront of asking for such a ban, are you satisfied with the CM’s response or do you want more assurances?
NG: This part has been reported wrongly by some papers. As I was present during the budget session let me give you the details of the actual statement of the CM.

SKM Supremo PS Golay while speaking on the Sikkim Online Gambling (Regulation) Ammendment Bill 2015 had also mentioned a few things in regard to casinos. Agreeing that the casinos had the potential to boost tourism industry in the state, Golay welcomed it but also demanded that a ban on locals from gambling in casinos be inserted in the act and that the government strictly monitor the casinos. Golay also demanded that regulations for payment of taxes from price money be made immediately. The Act in its current form could encourage money laundering as the states indigenous population had been exempted from taxes.

Replying to Golay’s query on casinos, Chamling said that the states casinos were not open for locals but there could be instances where a local could have dogged security personals and enter the casinos. He also assured that he would also strengthen the act by enforcing strict regulations that dealt strictly with the rule breakers.

But from a RTI reply it has come to light that there is no law that barred locals from gambling in casinos and that there was no restrictions for government employees from gambling in casinos. The rising corruption in the state could also be a result of government officers freely gambling in casinos.

Although announcements have been made by the CM in the floor of the house we strongly feel that like all other announcements this will also lead to nothing. The SKM demands amendments in the Sikkim Casino Games (Control & Tax) Act 2002 be made immediately and the necessary clauses be added to the Act.

Q. If SKM comes to power in the next elections in 2019, how different will your approach be on gaming and lotteries? What kind of policies does your party promise to frame?
NG: With lottery counters placed all around the state, it shows how the local population are being affected by the ills of gambling, hence if SKM came to power the party would constitute a study team to research on the ills of gambling and it’s effects on the local population.

Keeping in mind the recommendations placed forward by the study team, SKM would  rethink on allowing state lottery stalls in the state. As many other alternative sources of revenue generation like hydel power, tourism, floriculture etc etc are also available with the state government a rethink on continuation of lotteries is necessary.

The state governments decision to allow casinos in five star hotels in Sikkim is welcomed by SKM as that would boost up the tourism industry in the state also. But SKM wants the casinos strictly be limited for tourists and locals be kept away the from it. Till date there is no law that bars locals from gambling in casinos and that could be because of the CM’s sons involvement in the casino industry.