Most casinos in the Indian state of Goa have bit the bullet and paid their increased license fees after the state government and local courts rejected their requests for relief.
In March, Goa’s government announced steep hikes in license fees for the state’s land-based and floating casino operators. The casinos cried foul, and the land-based operators lobbied the government to allow them to add live gaming (which is only allowed on the shipboard casinos) in exchange for paying the fee hikes.
However, a senior department official told the Times of India last week that there was “no question of rolling back the fees” and the operators could either make the payments or surrender their licenses.
Last Friday, the Nahvind Times quoted government sources saying 11 casinos – five of the six floating casinos and six of the land-based venues – had paid the revised fees by the government’s stipulated deadline. One other casino is reportedly in the process of paying its dues while two others – the Crown and Carnival – decided to shut down operations rather than ante up.
The casinos’ ran out of options in the last week of April, when the Bombay High Court of Goa rejected a plea for interim relief by Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd, which operates the state’s newest floating casino. Golden Globe argued that since its casino only set sail in January, it should be given some kind of break, or at least more time to pay the new fees.
The Court rejected the plea, saying the government’s new fee structure was industry-wide and thus didn’t unfairly persecute any one operator. Furthermore, the Court granted the government liberty to take action against any operator that failed to make its payments.
Speaking of Golden Globe’s new operation, which has been rechristened Big Daddy Casino, its poker room will soon be managed by Indian online gaming operator Spartan Poker. Big Daddy manager Narendra Punj said the new relationship “will bode well for the future of live poker in the country.”
Gutshot Magazine quoted Spartan managing director Amin Rozani saying “live poker is where we all began our journey as players and poker operators, so we are delighted at the opportunity to come back to Goa and the Big Daddy.” The Spartan website has already gotten into the spirit, offering a new Sunday tournament called The Big Daddy, with the winner receiving a travel package to Goa.