A new floating casino in the Indian state of Goa hopes to make a splash by staying buoyant long enough to impress gambling tourists.
Thursday saw the kickoff of an 11-day ‘opening extravaganza’ for the Big Daddy Casino on the MV Lucky 7, a 72-meter vessel whose operator, Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd (GGH), claims is “the biggest and most modern offshore gaming destination in Asia.”
The vessel, which was built back in 1995, has a notorious past, having run aground on a sandbar in July 1997 while it was being towed to its permanent mooring on the Mandovi river. It took several months before the MV Lucky 7 could be shifted from its resting place and GGH temporarily transferred the ship’s gaming operations to another vessel, the MV San Domino, that December.
GGH is keen for the public to forget this regrettable past, which didn’t help endear Goa’s casino industry to already dubious locals. GGH has hired numerous Bollywood stars in the hope of enticing tourists to check out the boat’s 110 live gaming tables, which are spread out over the ship’s three levels, along with the usual assortment of wining, dining and other non-gaming entertainment options.
The launch of the new Big Daddy coincides with Goa’s casino industry expecting a surge in new business from gamblers who might otherwise have visited casinos in Sri Lanka, but who now view Goa as a safer option following the recent coordinated bombing campaign by Sri Lankan terror groups. Daiji World quoted GGH chief advisor Narinder Punj saying Goa expects to absorb 75% of the gamblers who decide to give Sri Lanka a miss.
Goa’s floating casino industry has been operating on a never-ending supply of six-month license extensions for most of this decade, as the government appears unwilling or unable to pull the trigger on a half-baked plan to move the casinos ashore and into a permanent gaming zone.
The latest of these six-month reprieves was granted in March without any cabinet discussion, leading the opposition Congress party’s spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar to complain that, despite all the ruling BJP government’s public pronouncements, “nothing happens.”