Casino operators in the Indian state of Goa are complaining about the new rules barring local residents, although one casino probably won’t welcome back the dozens of locals arrested for rioting inside the venue.
Last Thursday, police were called to the casino at the La Calypso Hotel in North Goa after receiving reports that dozens of individuals had entered the casino around 3:30am and began threatening staff and some of the other 300 or so guests inside the venue at the time. The casino is operated by Casino Pride Group.
Depending on which reports you believe, police arrested between 15-38 of the troublemakers on suspicion of rioting and are on the lookout for a few more of the accused, some of whom were said to be ‘bouncers’ working for a security agency.
Police responded after getting a call saying the troublemakers were holding the staff and other guests hostage, allegedly due to a dispute over winnings from the casino. However, later reports indicated that the one of those arrested was businessman Kaushal Khanna, who is listed as one of the directors of La Calypso Hotels Pvt Ltd.
The Herald Goa reported that Khanna had leased the hotel’s operations to Atlantis Entertainment but Atlantis allegedly refused to vacate the property after the lease expired last January, allegedly due to Khanna’s refusal to release the Rs100m (US$1.4m) deposit made by Atlantis. Khanna reportedly prevailed in a case brought before the National Company Law Tribunal in New Delhi but Atlantis refused to budge.
As a result of this impasse, Khanna allegedly led the ‘riot’ in a bid to force Atlantis from the property, only to have the casino security bolt the doors to prevent anyone from leaving. After this, Khanna and his mob allegedly began damaging property and threatening casino staff.
Atlantis Entertainment representative Shrinivas Nayak reportedly filed the complaint against Khanna and his minions, accusing them of stealing cash and gaming chips worth nearly Rs200m ($2.8m). This weekend, a local court refused Khanna’s bail application, allowing police to detain him for 10 days.
LOCALS BAN IRKS CASINO OPERATORS
Meanwhile, the Goa government’s ban on local residents entering the state’s casinos has operators complaining that the rules, which took effect on February 1, are too vague to implement with any assurance that they’re doing what they need to be doing.
The Nahvind Times quoted a land-based casino operator saying it was “not clear whether the order is a blanket ban or whether entry will be allowed with a permit.” One of Goa’s floating casino operators noted that many locals visit the casinos “for ambience as the entertainment is good,” so shouldn’t they be permitted to enter so long as they don’t gamble?
The operators also complain that the government is taking a drastic step to deal with a non-problem. Surveys have shown that only 1.1% of Goans visit casinos on a monthly basis, and a land-based casino manager said locals accounted for only about 5% of his venue’s clientele.