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Gaming

Puducherry CM plans to allow offshore casinos

Newly appointed Chief Minister of the Union Territory of Puducherry (Pondicherry), V. Narayanasamy has indicated that he is amenable to starting offshore casinos in the region by emulating Goa to boost tourism and attract visitors from other states.

In an interview to Deccan Chronicle, Narayanasamy is quoted to have said, “Tourism is a big focus area for my government and we plan to have theme park, water sports and we will also explore the possibility of setting up an off shore casino like in Goa.”

Unlike other Union Territories which are administered by the central government, Puducherry and Delhi enjoy a special status, as they have their own legislative assemblies and governments to deal with various matters that are  ordinarily dealt by state governments.

The Pondicherry Gaming Act, 1965 is applicable to the Union territory of Puducherry and it prohibits all forms of games of chance, including gaming in common gaming houses or on streets. Any proposal to allow casinos in the Union Territory would therefore require an amendment to the statute by the legislative assembly.

Various state governments such as Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka etc. have planned starting casinos but had to put such proposals on the backburner due to opposition from various quarters. It remains to be seen whether Narayanswamy is able to materialise the plan to create a gaming hub in Pondicherry.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Opposition claims credit, demands stringent law to ban locals in Sikkim casinos

Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), the principal opposition party in Sikkim has claimed credit for the recent amendment in rules banning participation of locals in the state’s casinos.

Navraj Gurung, Senior Leader of SKM while commenting on the recent move said, “To be frank, this notification is just like a face saver issued under pressure from the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha. A Right to Information (RTI) application was made by a SKM party worker asking about any law that banned locals in casinos. In its reply, the government said the matter was under process and four days later, this notification was issued.  This is not going to help as locals are still regulars in casinos. We need a proper law like that of Goa and SKM will push for a stringent and foolproof law that bans locals from gambling in casinos.”

Gurung added that locals should be kept away from all kinds of gambling and should also be restricted from accessing online betting and gaming terminals. He also noted that there should be proper implementation of the new rules so that locals do not take advantage of any loopholes.

While it is true that the Goa Public Gambling Act was amended in 2012, the guidelines for the same have not been notified till date. As per The Telegraph, casino visitors and owners are unhappy with the decision. Some Sikkim residents have even claimed that the amendment to the rules goes against the right to equality enshrined under Article 14 of the Constitution and noted that the rules could be legally challenged.

However, one government official is quoted to have been said that the “restriction is for the betterment of the local people and it is not about moral policing. There has been lots of opposition from a section of people who are demanding restrictions as they feel gambling is not good for a progressive state such as Sikkim”, indicating that there is a rational basis for the classification of locals and non-locals and thus the challenge to the new rules may not find favour with the judiciary.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Locals banned from entering casinos in Sikkim, entry fee hiked

Exclusive The Sikkim government has amended the Sikkim Casinos (Control & Tax) Rules, 2007 to ban locals from entering casinos and playing in the live casinos as per the amendment to the 2007 Rules, published in the official gazette on 4th July 2016.

As per the notification, the following sub-rule has been inserted with immediate effect:

In order to safeguard the interest of the local peoples, only persons having the photo identity card, either voter identity card or Aadhar card or Passport issued from outside the State of Sikkim will be permitted for entry into the Casinos. [sic]

Additionally, the notification has also doubled the entry fee to be charged from patrons at the time of entering casinos from five hundred rupees to one thousand rupees.

The amendment to the rules is in line with the assurance given by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on the floor of the legislative assembly in July 2015, stating that locals will not be encouraged to enter casinos. However, the wording of the rules indicates that a resident of Sikkim can enter casinos if he manages to obtain identity proof from another state and thus could be possibly circumvented.

The new amendment would adversely impact the two casinos currently operational in the state, as a major chunk of the revenue is from locals. The amendment adds, that failure to comply with this new condition could result in cancellation or suspension of the license. These rules however will not apply to online betting and gaming outlets operating in the state, where locals will be continued entry.

Currently, casinos are allowed only in five star hotels in Sikkim and there are two operational casinos- one in Hotel Royal Plaza and the second one in Mayfair Resort. It is believed that Delta Corp is also looking to open a third casino in Hotel WelcomHeritage Denzong Regency.

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Business Gaming

Delta Corp set to start new casino in Sikkim

Exclusive Delta Corp, India’s largest and only publicly traded gaming and hospitality company is all set to operate a new casino in Sikkim in the next two or three months, according to sources.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter indicate that Hotel WelcomHeritage Denzong Regency in Gangtok has procured a license under the Sikkim Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 2002 to operate a live casino and that the gaming space will be leased to Delta Corp, which shall be responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the new casino.  The company, however, has not made any official announcement yet and may share further details about the operations and commencement date in the coming days.

Sikkim already has two existing casinos- Casino Mahjong in the Mayfair resort and Casino Sikkim in Hotel Royal Plaza. However, Hotel Denzong Regency is said to have a more convenient and strategic location and is the closest from Gangtok city.

As per the Denzong Regency website, it “is the only 5 Star Luxury Mountain Retreat at Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, at a height of 6000 feet, situated within a 10 acre sprawling, century-old, wooded, family-owned property, which offers the finest views of the city and the pristine splendor of the undulating hills, valleys and a myriad streams that course through it, with the towering Mt. Kanchenjunga peak in the background.” The hotel is next to the residences of the Governor (Raj Bhavan) and the Chief Justice of Sikkim.

Delta Corp already operates two offshore and one onshore casino in Goa, while its resort in Daman is awaiting an onshore casino license. However, Sikkim is the only state in the country where live gaming is permitted on land. Casino licenses are granted only to five-star hotels in the Himalayan state.

With its entry in Sikkim, the only other state apart from Goa where casinos are permitted, Delta Corp is likely to consolidate its position as the market leader in the gaming industry.

In light of this new development, Sikkim may become the preferred location for the gaming industry, overtaking Goa, where the casino industry has been reeling under the  with full-fledged online gaming and betting operations also likely to start in the coming months.

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Legal & Regulatory

Goa cabinet extends deadline for shifting offshore casinos by one year

The Laxmikant Parsekar headed Goa cabinet extended the deadline for shifting offshore casinos from River Mandovi by one year. In doing so, the cabinet has modified its previous decision of August 2015, which had stated that offshore casinos would have to relocate to an alternate location latest by 31st March, 2016.

“The decision was to grant further extension to the offshore casino licences to relocate their casino vessels from river Mandovi for a further period till an alternate feasible site is finalised by the government or till March 31, 2017, which ever is earlier,” Parsekar said in media statement after the cabinet meeting.

The government had earlier identified four alternate locations; Rivers Chapora, Sal, Zuari and Aguada Bay in June last year but none of the alternate locations were found feasible. Additionally there was stiff resistance from local villages near the rivers and numerous petitions from casino employees.

The decision to not shift casinos out of River Mandovi is a temporary reprieve for the casino industry which is facing series of tough regulations including increase in license fees and taxes.

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Business Legal & Regulatory

In blow to casino industry, Goa CM once again hikes entry tax, license fees

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar hiked the entertainment tax and license fees for onshore and offshore casinos in the state in his budget speech presented in the legislative assembly yesterday. The entry tax for visitors to casinos has been hiked from the existing Rs. 700/- per visitor to Rs. 1,000/- while the existing recurring annual casino license fees has also been hiked for both onshore and offshore casinos by at least Rs. 1 crore or more.

Thus, onshore casinos upto 100 square metres in area had to pay Rs. 2.5 crores as license fee last year, will now have to pay Rs. 3.5 crores. An offshore casino having passenger capacity of 100 persons had to pay Rs. 7 crores as license fee, but will now have to pay Rs. 8 crores (complete table given below).

The Goa government has progressively increased the license fee and entry taxes for casinos making it difficult for the casino industry to continue operations.

Relevant extracts of CM Parsekar’s budget speech

Entertainment Tax

Speaker Sir, I propose to enhance the existing entry fee in Casinos of Rs. 700/- charged per person under the Goa Entertainment Tax Act, 1964 to Rs. 1,000/- per person. I also propose to implement ticketing through use of electronic fiscal devices, which will ensure a check on the entry tickets issued and utilized on real time basis.

Casino Fees

Speaker Sir, I propose to revise the fees for Renewal of Licence and Annual Recurring Fees, for land based and off-shore casinos. The details are provided in Annexure – D.

Fee structure for casinos

Fees of Renewal of Licence:

a) On shore / land based casinos: Rs. 20 lakhs
b) Off-shore Casinos : Rs. 20 lakhs

Table on recurring annual license fees

goa

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Business Legal & Regulatory

Goa govt reveals 13 casino licenses in response to RTI query, says gaming commission rules being finalised

Exclusive In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Jay Sayta, the founder of this website, the Goa department has disclosed that a total of 13 licensed casinos are currently operational in the state (as per the table below). Four offshore licenses and nine onshore licenses have been granted by the state government with most of the licenses having a five year validity. The license of the casino at Bogmalo Resort seems to have expired on 16th August 2015 and the license has not been renewed as per the records.

Goa Home Department Under-Secretary Neetal Amonkar has also confirmed that rules for appointment of a gaming commission and barring of locals into casinos are being framed and ‘will  be notified for implementation once finalized’, without giving any timelines by which the process is expected to be completed.

Amonkar in the RTI response also added that there is no information pertaining to any proposal to regulate online gambling or games of skill available with the state government. The government RTI response also indicated that investigation against some casinos for irregularities may be pending. The government also noted that shifting the offshore casinos out of River Mandovi is the decision of the Goa cabinet which will be implemented unless rescinded or altered by the cabinet.

Sr No. Name of licensee Name of vessel/hotel Type of casino Date of expiry of license
1 Goa Coastal Resorts and Recreation Pvt. Ltd. (Pride group) MV Pride of Goa Offshore 12/09/2018
2 Victor Hotels and Motels Ltd. (Delta Corp group) MV Horeshoe Casino Offshore 28/08/2018
3 VM Salgaonkar & Brother Pvt. Ltd. (later transferred to Golden Peace Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.) (Pride Group) MV Boa Sorte Offshore 03/12/2018
4 Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (Delta Corp Group) MV Casino Royale Offshore 23/10/2018
5 M/s. Vision Enterprises The Crown, Goa Onshore (20 machines) 04/04/2016
6 Raffles Square Development Pvt. Ltd. The ‘O’ Star Hotel Onshore (20 machines) 14/04/2016
7 Britto Entertainment Amusements Pvt. Ltd. Vainguinim Valley Resort Onshore 09/03/2018
8 Golden Peace Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd.) (Pride Group) Neo Majestic Onshore 25/06/2018
9 Fomento Resorts and Hotels Ltd. Cidade De Goa Onshore 03/08/2019
10 Silver Springs Pleasure Resorts Pvt. Ltd. The Zuri Whitesands Goa Onshore 27/01/2019
11 La Calypso Hotels Pvt. Ltd. La Calypso Hotel Onshore 27/11/2018
12 VM Salgaonkar & Brother Pvt. Ltd. Goa Mariott Resort Onshore 30/10/2018
13 Delta Corp Ltd. Deltin Suites Onshore 30/11/2020

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Gadkari says no to casinos, asks state governments to develop yoga and spiritual tourism instead

Union Shipping & Road Transport Minister and former President of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nitin Gadkari rejected the idea of having casinos in the country to bolster tourism as per media reports. Gadkari, who is a senior leader of BJP and considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi added that people will not tolerate casinos and he would personally never give permissions for developing casinos.

Gadkari however stated that entertainment facilities without casinos should be developed by states. The Union Minister also noted traditional aryuvedic, medical and spa resorts as well as wellness centres should be developed to attract foreign tourists.

Gadkari’s statement comes days after Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda also made similar remarks stating that betting should not be legalised at this stage and rather attempts should be made to curtail it. These remarks indicate a strong trend that  BJP, the ruling party at the centre and in a dozen-odd states might at present be averse to the idea of regulating betting and gambling activities.

The statements by Gadkari and Gowda are however in sharp contrast to comments by Goa Chief Minister and BJP leader Laxmikant Parsekar, who believes casinos bring in good amount of investment and revenues. Senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh,who was also the Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, (Jammu & Kashmir is currently experiencing a brief spell of Governor’s rule, though Singh is widely expected to get the same portfolio again very soon) had also earlier stated that casinos can be allowed in Jammu & Kashmir.

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Gaming Legal & Regulatory

Maharashtra set to notify casino legislation

Maharashtra is laying grounds to enforce the Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976, a 40-year old landmark and farsighted legislation as per a report in the Hindu today. The State home department is studying gaming and casino laws applicable in Goa and Sikkim, including taxation issues involved, before a final deliberation to decide on notifying the pending Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act, 1976. A meeting of all stakeholders including law, tourism, home, and revenue departments is being called end of this month to reach a decision on legalising casinos by notifying the Act, officials said.

Following a petition by Jay Sayta, this website’s founder, challenging the government delay, the Bombay High Court had in October 2015 directed the government to take a stand on the issue within six months. A government proposal to promote Matheran as a casino destination has been gathering dust since the past few years. The High Court has asked the state government to take a decision on four occasions since February 2015, when the PIL was filed to take a reasoned decision.

“The Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976, is a landmark legislation, which is likely to earn the government a handsome revenue considering the gambling market in India is estimated to be $60 billion,” said Sayta.

Sources in the home department said a directive from the Chief Minister has been given to speed up the notification process. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), whose managing director Parag Jain has  written a letter to the home department stating that allowing casinos would have a positive impact on tourism and therefore the proposal should be considered favourably.

A senior officer of the home department, said, “However, given that this is a sensitive issue and since the government fears adverse publicity, we have neither made a public announcement or replied to any assembly queries. A decision on casinos in Maharashtra is expected very soon.”

It is expected that legalising betting could help the State control betting in sports and other activities, which is currently governed by the archaic Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.

“By not notifying this, the State government has carried out a constitutional fraud. It highlights the moral inhibitions of this government. If they implement it they are doomed, if they don’t then also they are in trouble. It is about time they notified this Act,” said Sayta.

 Source: The Hindu

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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.