Offshore casinos in Goa have been given a fresh lease of life after the state government decided to extend permission to the vessels by three months to continue operations from River Mandovi after failing to locate an alternative site for them.
Previously, the initial deadline of March 31 was extended until June 30 and now following the extension, casinos can resume operations from Mandovi till September 30.
The decision was taken on the stipulation that the license holders would honour their earlier undertaking that they would relocate from the River Mandovi as and when directed.
The five-offshore casino licensees — Delta Corp Ltd, Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment, Golden Peace Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Goa Coastal Resorts and Recreation Pvt Ltd and Delta Pleasure Cruise Company now have respite for the next three months.
The sixth offshore casino is also likely to enter the same river as directed by the Bombay HC at Goa and is set to be moored soon once the third rug is provided as per specifications.
Earlier, the state cabinet decided not to renew offshore casino licenses expiring after March 31, 2014, for operations in the present location, but in a cabinet meeting in the same year, licenses of offshore casinos expiring on or before March 31, 2014, were renewed for a period of two years. The extension was provided to allow them suitable time to make alternate arrangements to relocate from Mandovi.
The state government was searching for alternate locations at Zuari, Chapora and Sal rivers and Agauda Bay yet the proposal to shift the vessels never saw the light of day since the past two years. In fact, the proposal was rejected on grounds of non-viability.
With the BJP-led government assuming power in the latest elections, new chief minister Manohar Parrikar had already assured that his government is committed to shifting casinos out of the Mandovi River, but only after a suitable alternative is made available.
This should offer some temporary respite to people who travel to Goa to play poker in India.
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