Zen Cruises Private Limited, a company backed by the Essel Group, is going to begin offering casino cruises in India. The company has confirmed that it will launch its first premium leisure cruise, which will offer a fully-equipped casino, starting this April under the “Jalesh Cruises” brand name.
The 2,000-seat Karnika will be the first casino cruise ship to set sail as part of Jalesh. It will launch from Mumbai and travel to Goa before making its return trip, and will stop in various ports along the route. Zen adds that the cruise will include a number of entertainment shows, exotic and authentic cuisine and many adventure activities.
According to the casino section of the Jalesh Cruises website, “Roll the dice and spend your night with the lady luck and enjoy a flutter at Players Bar & Casino. Located on Deck 8, the Royal Casino will spoil you for choices. From most popular games like Blackjack, Poker, Scratch-off and Slot Machine Games to some amazing table games, this place is sure to rise up your excitement.
“While you are busy praying for your luck, we are here to quench your thirst with some sparkling spirits. Get ready to experience a slice of Vegas right at sea – with thousands of square feet of lights, action, slots, and tables.”
Subhash Chandra, the chairman of Essel Group and an MP from Rajya Sabha, has helped to develop India’s India Cruise Lines Association (INCLA). The organization has been fundamental in convincing government officials, including through a petition to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Union Ministry for Shipping, Road Transport, Highways, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, to approve gambling on cruise ships, as well as to allow Foreign Direct Investments in the casino industry.
It is not clear whether Jalesh will provide casino operations within the territorial waters of India, or turn on the games only after exiting into international territory. The INCLA worked hard to find approval for casinos on cruise ships outside the 12-nautical mile mark and is working on seeking authorization from the government to allow them to operate within territorial water boundaries as well.