In a twist to the Goa Casinos fate, the Centre for Responsible Tourism(CRT) , a Church affiliated body released an open letter to the Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar urging him to drop casinos from the proposed tourism masterplan. This came just a day after Parrikar had announced that the Goa Government will not renew licences of the offshore casino vessels that do not move out of Mandovi river here, once their current permission expires. The two developments coming within days of each other just make the Goa Casino story more murky.
Currently, there are five floating casino vessels in the River Mandovi, 4 out of which are operational. The Delta Corp Group operates Deltin Royale and Deltin Jaqk Casinos while the Pride Group has two operational Vessels in Pride I and Pride II(earlier Casino Carnival). It was last year when the Goa Government had mentioned that the casinos which come up for renewal will not be granted fresh licenses.
“All the vessels will move out in next two years,” Parrikar told the state Legislative Assembly. The owners of the offshore casinos will have to look out where they will anchor the vessels, once they are moved out of Mandovi river, he said. “If they don’t move out, their licence would not be renewed,” Parrikar said. The issue was raised on the floor of the House by Independent legislator Rohan Khaunte, who had questioned the safety of passengers visiting the offshore casino vessels.
This development in the house took place on 4th August and on 5th August, the CRT went to the media with an open letter to the CM. Addressing a press conference in Panaji Tuesday, Maverick Fernandes, who heads “Caritas”, the charitable wing of the Goa Church, released an open letter addressed to Parrikar. Talking about the need to banish casinos from the state’s tourism offerings, Fernandes said: “They have brought a bad name to the state. What brings a bad name should not be part of the masterplan. We cannot generate revenue from vices.” The Letter also attacked the government for supporting massage parlours and golf courses.
While the Tourism Masterplan is not expected to be implemented in the next six months but this letter might go to influencing the government’s stand. Notwithstanding the Goa Government’s statements time and again about moving the casinos out of the Mandovi River post their license expiry in 2015, it is speculated that the government is fine with them operating from some other open waters. But will stake holders like the CRT make an influence on the government’s decision? Will the Goa Casinos be allowed to operate at all? Well, murkiness and uncertainty is something the Goa casinos are used to! Time to play the Wait Game!