Removing Casinos from the River Mandovi is next to impossible and hence it has become the main agenda of all the politicians as to how to encash on it. People of Goa knows very well that regardless of whatever promises made during the political parties, once they come to power they find the way out to keep the Casinos in Mandovi.

Six Casinos moored in the Mandovi River have been a bone of contention. It has topped election manifestos and become a political wooing tool.  While Panjim MLA Anastasio Monserrate, had promised to move these casinos on shore, within 100 days of his tenure, Chief Minister’s latest casino footage in a Goa tourism promotional video says they are here to stay. In fact, the BJP-led government had allowed then another six-month extension up to September 2019.  It remains to be seen which throw of dice will win.

Six offshore casinos, moored in the Mandovi River along the Panjim waterfront, have been the bone of contention of political parties, particularly during elections, with most them promising to either shut won or relocate them.  But the stalemate continues.

In the present circumstance, tourists are coming to visit casinos as well. Keeping in mind that Goa is a tourist place and with regards to the tourism sector, we need to promote every activity, which brings interest to tourists and also helps the development of the State

While the BJP-led government has, in the past, allowed the number of casinos in the Mandovi to grow, despite protests from all quarters, it has, as recently as March allowed them a further extension till September this year, after the government failed to come up with a viable casino relocation policy.

According to the Times of India report, Goa’s late and former Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, had planned to shift the offshore casinos to a dedicated gaming zone on land near the proposed international airport which was to come up at Mopa. But the promises have fallen short by the present leadership.

Defending a promotional video of Goa Tourism that features casinos, according to a Herald report, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant claims it is a part of the State’s tourism.  Justifying this claim of promoting cultural tourism, given that the promotional video prominently features casinos besides other tourist attractions of Goa, Chief Minister said, “Out of the total number of tourists visiting Goa, some tourists come here for casinos.” He also added that “Government is a continuous process and we can’t close anything overnight.”  

State Congress president Girish Chodankar said, “Casinos have become an ATM for BJP.”  The Congress had organized a protest against casinos when it was in the opposition and said it would remove them from the Mandovi.

According to the source, he further stated, “In the present circumstance, tourists are coming to visit casinos as well. Keeping in mind that Goa is a tourist place and with regards to the tourism sector, we need to promote every activity, which brings interest to tourists and also helps the development of the State.”

This statement seems to be in opposition to the promises made not only by the late Chief Minister but by Congress Panjim MLA, Babush Monserrate as well.  According to a Times of India report, in May this year, Monserrate reiterated his intention to shift the six offshore casinos out of the Mandovi River within 100 days of his tenure.  He, however, clarified that they could move their operations on shore.

One of the Floating Casino Vessel in Mandovi

Calming fears that people currently employed in a casino will not lose their jobs, he once again stated that he would not stop casinos, only shift them. According to the source, Monserrate believes that the Goa Gambling Act needs to be amended, which will allow live casinos to operate from a five-star hotel. 

State Congress president Girish Chodankar said, “Casinos have become an ATM for BJP.”  The Congress had organized a protest against casinos when it was in the opposition and said it would remove them from the Mandovi.

Who holds the dice and what will they reveal. From the looks of it, offshore casinos are here to stay and promise to remove them will just remain another election promise on paper.

Source: Heraldo | TOI | BBC

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