India gov’t urged to allow foreign direct investment in gambling sector

TAGs: Goa, India

india-gambling-foreign-investmentA non-profit pro-gaming group in India is lobbying the government to permit foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country’s gambling, betting and lottery sector.

On Tuesday, the Economic Times reported that the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) had written to the Union Minister of State for Commerce & Industry urging him to amend the laws prohibiting FDI in India’s gambling sector “in the interest of the nation and its citizens.”

Under Para 5.1 of the FDI rules, foreign firms are prohibited from any form of technological collaboration in the gambling sector. The prohibition also covers franchise, trademark, brand name and management contracts.

The AIGF notes that the government has been amending the FDI rules to exempt certain industries and suggested gambling should be included in the list of exemptions. The AGIF suggested allowing international companies to take an equity stake of at least 26% in gambling joint ventures while allowing Indian firms access to these firms’ technology.

The AGIF believes Indian firms would derive huge benefits from the use of foreign technology, while claiming that the law change would result in international firms investing over Rs 100b (US $1.5b), resulting in the creation of thousands of white collar jobs.

AIGF CEO Roland Landers said it was “in everyone’s interest” to lift the FDI restrictions. Outside of a few notable pockets of liberality, gambling is largely illegal in India, but Landers notes that “the Victorian attitude of prohibition gambling is no longer in sync with modern day thinking.”

The Commerce & Industry ministry has replied to AIGF’s appeal by saying it was considering the request and would make its views known shortly.

Meanwhile, the ongoing quest to find a permanent home for the state of Goa’s floating casinos has hit yet another snag. On Tuesday, the High Court of Bombay at Goa informed the state government that it had received a petition from a non-governmental organization protesting plans to issue a casino license to a local five-star hotel.

In March, the Goa government renewed the licenses of the state’s four (now five) offshore casinos for only one-year, during which it hopes to identify permanent homes for the casinos other than the Mandovi river.

GenNext, the NGO that filed the petition, claims it formally challenged the Town and Country Planning Department’s decision to allow a hotel on the island of Chorao to build a new structure to house a casino. As might be expected, the NIMBY group has offered no alternative location that it might find acceptable.


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