from daijiworld's special correspondent
Panaji, Sep 6: Amidst strong opposition from political rivals, the Goa government has finalized its policy to allow 10 offshore casinos in the state.
Goa already have an offshore casino, Asia’s only one, floating in the Mandovi river off Panaji city since 2000.
In what seems to be a step that would invite he wrath of moral and cultural police, the state government has advertised its policy to have 10 offshore casinos including the existing one in its waters.
The government officers confirm that they already have received six applications from reputable companies, which are being scrutinized.
The opposition BJP has come out strongly against the government’s policy, contending that such a step would encourage gambling-centric tourism in the state, which on the other hand would lead to increase in crimes and prostitution.
“This is a step towards cultural degeneration by the state government,” commented leader of opposition Manohar Parrikar. The former chief minister has threatened to mobilize a massive agitation, if the government goes ahead with its plans.
The state government, on the other hand, has a lame excuse coming handy. “We have not invited applications from the companies. The state government has just made it clear that they will not allow more than 10 casinos in the state,” rationalized Dr Dilraj Kaur, special secretary (Home), Goa government.
Kaur justified government’s stand as “an act to control unchecked proliferation of gambling activities.”
“In fact, we feel that there should be less casinos… Government’s policy is a step to pass on a message to companies that more than 10 casinos would not be allowed in the state,” she said.
She said that Goa government will conduct a study on the feasibility of having casinos in such a number before granting licences. When asked as to who would do the study, she replied: "I can’t divulge things at this point."
Kaur stated that though the Goa government will earn huge revenues from these casinos, allowing 10 floating casinos was with a good intention of controlling the gambling.