As River Mandovi’s floating casinos continue to search for an alternate waterway, a Goa minister has put forward an idea: Why not bring them to land?
Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai is pushing to shift the casino vessels in the state to be shifted to a suitable location on land. Sardesai, who is also the president of the Goa Forward Party, was quoted by the Times of India as saying, “We want to remove all casinos from the river and I am personally pushing to move them from there to land.”
The state government announced several weeks ago that it has extended the deadline for the casinos to wrap up their operations on the Mandovi river to September 30. The new deadline matches an earlier promise the government made to the casino operators—Delta Corp, Goa Coastal Resorts and Recreation, Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment, Golden Peace Infrastructure and Delta Pleasure Cruise Company—immediately following the recently held elections.
The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court also allowed Golden Globe Hotels Pvt. Ltd. to launch MV Lucky Seven on the river—a move that Sardesai opposed.
The minister pointed out that his party has “never been anti-casino per se,” but they do want the vessels out of the river. Sardesai said he is personally pushing to make the necessary changes to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act so that the casino vessels can be shifted to land.
“We need to amend the Acts as these casinos are polluting the whole river. The whole riverfront can instead be converted on the lines of the Hong Kong harbor where there are daily laser shows. Casinos should not be shut down because then we are closing many other things,” Sardesai said, according to the news outlet.
The search for an alternate waterway has been going on for years now, with sites at Auguada Bay and on the Zuari, Chapora and Sal rivers all put forward as possible home berths. But these plans were complicated when local residents expressed resistance, in some cases due to the potential impact on sensitive fishing areas.