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15/08/13 - New casino in Goa but will it open?

India's first casino opened in Goa more than two decades ago, with the intention of boosting tourism, and the state remains one of the few places in India where casinos are legal.


It's been a huge revenue raiser for the government but the industry has seen a lot of changes and opposition.


Initially, only onshore casinos with slot machines were permitted (and these were established in five star hotels). However, the law was subsequently amended to allow offshore gambling with live tables on boats.  The Casino Caravela, which was docked in the Mandovi River, started operating in early 2001 and was the first of this type of casino in Goa.


In 2004, it was announced that no more casinos would be allowed in the the state. Yet, in 2007, the government cleared a proposal for five more offshore casinos.


Currently, there are only three functional offshore casinos though. Earlier this year, the owner of Casino Caravela decided to replace it with a bigger and better vessel called Casino Horseshoe, with space for 100 live gaming tables. The new boat has been sitting in the Mandovi River since the end of May, but the government has so far refused to give it permission to open. What's more, according to thisrecent news report, the Chief Minister has said that he aims to rid all floating casinos from the River.


An important issue regarding the casinos is the lack of regulation. The gaming commission, proposed in 2010 to monitor the casinos and check for irregularities, is yet to be set up (although it's hoped to be ready by the end of this month).


While casinos remain controversial, there's no doubt that they're big business.  The three offshore casinos attract thousands of patrons a day. What's more, the falling rupee has resulted in high spending tourists from north India heading to Goa to gamble, rather than Macau or Las Vegas.


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