The fate of casinos in Maharashtra will finally be known by the end of May, ending a four decade-wait since the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) act was passed and published in July 1976.
Citing highly placed government sources, Indian daily broadsheet DNA reported that the home department met all stakeholders – including revenue, tourism and law – last week to make a final call before coming out with a decision next week.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), one of the major stakeholders, has supported the development of casinos in Maharashtra to give its tourism industry a major boost and at the same time for the state government to earn more revenues. It said that the Maharashtra will contribute a large portion in India’s $60 billion gambling market.
The Economic Times of India (ETI), quoting its own news sources, reported that MTDC has pushed for the state to allow offshore casinos — which could operate from a yacht off the coast — where entry would be limited to foreign tourists. Currently, Goa and Sikkim are the only states that allow casinos in India.
Before private gambling firms get their hands on the market, the MTDC suggested that casinos will be exclusively run by the government for the first couple of years. These suggestions, according to ETI, have gained support from a few top government functionaries and ministers in the state.
“This would allow the government earn a huge amount of money, but also give a huge boost to tourism,” a senior state official, who requested anonymity, told the ETI.
But even if the government has given its verdict on the fate of Maharashtra casinos, the DNA pointed out that the government may still face contempt before the Bombay High Court after it failed to resolve the issue within the six-month period set by the high tribunal, which lapsed last April 9.
Illegal gambling den in India’s plush residential society shuttered
In other gambling news, special branch of the Pune police swooped down on a posh apartment-turned illegal gambling den in a Pune last Saturday and arrested at least 13 people, including city-based tours and travel company operators and railway authorities who were caught gambling on the spot, local media reported.
The Times of India described the flat in Laburnum Park Building in Magarpatta City to be like clubs in Hollywood movies.
Bhosale said the flat owner and 12 were charged under sections of Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act.