Pressure continues to burgeon for Goa casinos, as the outcome of the current elections will play a chief role in deciding their fate. In a latest salvo, the Congress has announced that if they were to gain power, alcohol licenses for casinos would not be renewed. In the meantime, due the election code, the Chief Minister’s office (CMO) is unable to grant a license to the sixth casino and this will done following the election results, which are due to be announced on March 11. People who play poker in India will be keenly awaiting the results.
Prohibiting casinos was one of the main promises by the Congress in its election manifesto and now, Girish Chodankar, Secretary, AICC told reporters, "Once we form the government, I assure you we will not renew the excise licenses of the offshore casino vessels once they expire on March 31.”
He further went on to state that this step would be implemented after taking all legal precautions so that, “the casino operators don’t challenge our decision in the court.”
Sixth Casino License
The elections have also delayed the granting of license to the sixth casino, owned by former Haryana Minister Gopal Kanda’s company, Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd. The file for the license was sent from Laxmikant Parsekar’s, (CM) office to the Attorney General and has returned for signing.
But since the election code of conduct is in force, the CM’s office has postponed the decision. “We are examining the file. A decision can be taken only after the code is lifted.”
The fate of this sixth casino, as well as the other operating ones hangs in the balance. The BJP has continuously backed the operators on the basis of the industry being a revenue-bringer, but most other parties have only condemned the casinos, promising to banish ‘casino culture’ from the state.
Interestingly, the above Congress statement only concerns ‘excise licenses’ and not of operations that mark the March 31 deadline, which can mean that they too may have been criticizing the casinos only to gain votes and may sing a different tune, once elected.
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