Floating casinos in the Indian state of Goa have gotten their last reprieve from the Panaji city council, which also ordered a crackdown on the casinos’ outdoor advertising.
On Monday, the Times of India reported that the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) had unanimously resolved not to renew the trade licenses of the six shipboard casinos currently serving gamblers on the Mandovi River, dismissing warnings that this step could lead to lawsuits.
For years now, Goa’s state government has promised to find a permanent home for the casinos – maybe in neighboring Aguada Bay, maybe at a designated land-based gaming zone near Goa’s in-development airport – without success.
Throughout this indecision, the casinos have remained on the Mandovi thanks to a seemingly endless series of six-month permit extensions issued by the state government – the current extension is set to epire on March 31, 2020 – but Panaji Mayor Uday Madkaikar warned in August that the casinos had worn out their welcome.
On Monday, Madkaikar said the CCP would “have no objection if [the casinos] are moved out of the river” and dared the casino operators to “go to court” if they found fault with the CCP’s GTFO vote.
The CCP also made good on Madkaikar’s August threat to crack down on the casinos’ use of LED advertising boards and street banners in Panaji. CCP commissioner Sanjit Rodrigues issued an order on Monday giving city inspectors seven days to “identify all the LED screens and banners, find if they are illegal and if there are dues owed to CCP.” Rodrigues warned that he would deal harshly with any inspector who failed to deliver a full report by next Monday.
In issuing the latest six-month permit extension, Goa’s Chief Minister Pramod Sawant insisted that the government would “decide in the next six months what will be out final policy decision on casinos.” Previous CM’s have made similar promises for the better part of a decade, but the CCP appears determined to force Sawant to honor his pledge.