Goa is perhaps the only state in the country that has offshore Casinos Anchored on the River, while there are land based casinos in other states. Casinos are here to stay and the state Government is planning to implement the New Goa Gambling Act more rigorously by making it punishable by way of heavy fines and imprisonment if required. But what is this New Gambling Act? And will it be really effective? Let’s take a look in this article.
The Goa Gambling Act or we call it the Goa, Daman and Diu Gambling Act 1976, came into the force in year 1976 and since then there are many developments such as the separation of Daman and Diu from Goa after the tiny Union Territory was declared as State in year 1987. Hence the law has many flaws and the fines are very nominal which gives leverage to the casino operators to violate it on regular basis by paying small fines.
Goa presently has 6 offshore casinos and many on shore casinos making this tiny state a Las Vegas of India. Betting and Gambling is currently permitted only in the Casinos and any other establishment carrying on such activities normally faces strict action from the state government home department.
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After the Goa Gambling Act came into the force in year 1976, there were many amendments done to the said Act. There was a amendment bill passed in Goa Assembly in year 2012 when the Parrikar Government came into the power. The Goa Public Gambling (Amendment) Bill, 2012 with the various amendments such as restrictions of the gambling areas and appointment of the Gaming Commissioner.
The new amendment barred the gaming activities outside the designated areas and violation of the same became punishable. It was in this Act the appointment of Gaming Commissioner came into the Existence and the he was given several powers to keep watch on the gambling activities. There are many things that were implemented for the first time under the Goa Gambling Act in this amendment.
Now the government under the leadership of Dr Pramod Sawant will be tabling the new bill called New Goa Gambling Act which will be tabled in the next Assembly Session that will be commencing from next week and that has a provision of heavy fines and provision of imprisonment in case of violation of the rules by Casino operators.
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According to the reports, although the state government has decided to table the new amended bill with the provisions for increase in fines substantially as well as imprisonment for the violators but there is not record listed in the bill or cabinet note.
The new bill will amend the sections 3, 4 and 11 of the Goa Gambling Act that deals with the Fines and Imprisonment.
“The quantum of fine payable under the penal provisions of Sections 3, 4 and 11, being meagre, needs enhancement. And on account of the same, the offences punishable under the said sections will be either imprisonment or fine or both,” a cabinet note said.
There is a need of amendment in the law since it came into the force in 1976 when the Goa was a part of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu but in the new bill the expression of Daman and Diu and Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 will be omitted from the Act.
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This error was going on in the law since Goa was conferred statehood on May 30, 1987, and Daman and Diu was made a separate Union territory. The state law department noted that that the expressions ‘Daman and Diu’ and ‘Union territory’ need to be removed.
One more important thing that needs to be taken into the consideration here is the amendment in the law in 2012 in which the State Government has notified that “Entry of Goans Will be Banned In Casinos” with this new ammeuement all the Local Goans suppose to get banned from entering in the all 6 offshore Casinos and nine onshore casinos from February 1, 2020, and appointed the commissioner of commercial tax as gaming commissioner to keep tabs on whether Goans were gambling at the said casinos, but the same was hardly implements and Goans were entering in the Casinos and playing games.
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Hope the new amendment of the heavy fines and fear imprisonment may prompt he Casino operators to take the necessary steps to ban the entry of Goans into the Casinos or may be they get ready to pay the huge fines as the imprisonment will never be a reality in the case of Casino operators in Goa.