The Indian state of Karnataka wants to become the fourth region in the country to permit casino gambling.
At present, only three Indian states – Goa, Daman and Sikkim – have authorized casino gambling within their borders. On Wednesday, the Times of India reported that the Karnataka state government’s tourism department was exploring the potential for casinos to boost tourism revenue.
Specifically, Karnataka is looking to mimic Goa’s four floating casinos by okaying gaming on cruise ships operating off Karnataka’s western shores. Multiple ports, including Karwar Belekeri, Tadri, Malpe, Old and New Mangalurur are reportedly being studied as possible hubs for the floating gaming halls.
Tourism officials are said to be considering two options. The first would involve cruise ships permanently berthed just offshore, with gamblers ferried to and from via motorboats, with the option of staying on board overnight. The second proposal would have passengers sign up for a four-night, three-day journey, launching in one port, stopping at another port along the way before passengers disembark at a third port.
The Times quoted Pradeep Singh Kharola, Principal Secretary (Tourism), denying that his office was actively considering either proposal but other sources claimed the government would raise the issue at the Invest Karnataka 2106 event scheduled for February 2016.
Resistance from the state’s more conservative legislators is expected to be fierce, but Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s current mandate doesn’t expire until 2018, giving him plenty of time to implement the casino plan, should that fit with his plans to boost local tourism.