Goa politicians are out to prove they’re not all talk when they say they want the Indian state’s gambling industry banned—they now have papers to back it, too.
“Floating casinos in Goa’s river will be closed permanently,” reads the manifesto of Congress, according to the Press Trust of India. Meanwhile, “those on the shore too will be closed at a later stage,” said Goa Congress chief Luizinho Faleiro.
The first phase will involve the offshore casinos in the river Mandovi, while onshore casinos will be banned in the second phase, the chief said.
Goa is one of the three states—Sikkim and Daman were the other two states—that allow live casinos to operate within its borders. The coastal state currently plays host to 11 land-based gaming venues and five floating casinos. However, members of the Indian Congress and Indian political parties have been threatening to ban casinos in Goa, whose operators they accused of cheating the state government of INR45,000 crore (USD6.62 billion) in tax revenues.
The opposition claimed that Goa casinos do not only promote tax fraud but they also pave the way for other crimes such as money laundering, drugs and prostitution. In a recent rally, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal slammed pro-Goa casino politicians for conniving with casino operators.
If the casinos were to close, analysts estimate that between 5,000 and 10,000 people will lose their jobs—a claim that Faleiro dismissed.
“I don’t think that there are much Goans working at these casinos,” the Congress chief told reporters.
Analysts also estimate that the state will lose around 3 million tourists. At present, Goa casinos are feeling the pinch of Modi’s demonetization scheme, bringing their revenues down to 80 percent in November.