Goa Cabinet Grants Offshore Casinos Six-Month Extension to Shift
The state cabinet in Goa has decided to grant an additional six-month extension to offshore casinos to relocate from their current location in the River Mandovi. The decision was made through the circulation of papers, as the scheduled cabinet meeting at Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s private residence was cancelled at the last minute without explanation.
According to the decision, the offshore casinos will have until September 30th, 2019 to shift out of the Mandovi river. They are required to submit an unconditional undertaking to move the casinos out of the river whenever an alternate feasible site is finalized by the government or by the aforementioned date, whichever comes earlier.
The plan to relocate the casinos has been in motion since August 2014, and the state government has continuously granted six-month extensions to the casino companies. This latest decision echoes a similar one made by the Parrikar-led cabinet in September 2018.
In August 2018, Chief Minister Parrikar informed the legislative assembly that the government was working on a new casino policy to shift the offshore casinos to a designated land area within the state. He also mentioned plans to issue 10-15 year licenses to casino companies relocating their operations, as well as appoint a gaming commissioner to oversee casino operations.
Furthermore, he assured that from January 2019, entry for locals would be restricted on the casinos. However, the state government has been unable to formulate and implement the casino policy and meet the timelines, due to Parrikar’s declining health.
The delays in implementing the changes have been attributed to the Chief Minister’s health issues. As a result, the government has been unable to finalize and notify the state’s casino policy. Despite the delays, the government remains committed to shifting the offshore casinos to a new location within the state.