India’s transport minister says attempts to legalize casinos in the country won’t happen on his watch.
This week, Transport minister Nitin Gadkari (pictured) told reporters that he was not at all down with talk of authorizing casinos. Apparently speaking on behalf of the ruling BJP party, Gadkari said “we oppose things like casinos and I will not give permission for that. People will also not tolerate such things.”
In October, the state of Maharashtra, which includes the country’s capital Mumbai, was ordered by the Bombay High Court to formally decide whether or not to authorize casino gambling within its borders. The ruling was sparked after a law student discovered that a 38-year-old statute had permitted casinos, but the state government had never notified the statute.
State officials have reportedly been told to get a move on in order to meet the Court’s six-month deadline, but Gadkari, Maharashtra’s former Public Works minister, is clearly advocating for a negative response. Gadkari suggested that the country’s nearly 1,300 islands might want to develop their tourism industry by opening “entertainment facilities” but “definitely not casinos.”
Casinos are currently legal only in Daman, Sikkim and Goa and getting into the latter state’s casinos is about to get harder for younger gamblers. On Wednesday, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar told the state Assembly that the government was drafting rules to restrict casino entry to gamblers 21 years of age or older.
The over-21 plan was first announced in November, along with a proposal to limit casino entry to non-Goans, except for those who work in the casinos. Opponents have vowed to file a legal challenge if the non-Goan rules were adopted and Parsekar offered no update on whether the government would follow through with the proposal.
Parsekar also said the government was still working out the details of plans to shift Goa’s four floating casinos from the Mandovi river to an alternate location. The government has given itself a deadline of March 2016 to complete this task.