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Goa's offshore casinos here to stay

Despite initial promises that it would rid the Mandovi river of the offshore casinos docked there, Goa's BJP- led coalition has done a 180 stating that it would not want to send the wrong message to the industry and chase away investors. The decision is likely to be welcomed not only by investors but also by the holidaymakers who visit Goa each year to enjoy its buzzing nightlife.

Goa's offshore casinos here to stay

Each year, hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers book holidays in Goa, eager to try their luck in one of the five offshore casinos docked in the Mandovi River offPanajii. Despite their popularity, the future of these offshore casinos, which have become landmarks for the capital, was up in the air not too long ago as the BJP-led coalition government, in their 2012 poll manifesto, promised to rid the river of the casinos. However, since coming into power, officials are now singing a different tune as they note the importance of the casinos to the economy.

Of the change in his government’s sentiment towards the casino industry, Goa’s Chief Minister Laxmikant Pasekar stated,

" I just cannot unilaterally send them (offshore casinos) home. There are laws of the land…I do not want to send a wrong signal to the industry as well. A person who invests here, or intends investing, needs to have faith in the government."

In addition to the offshore casinos, there are nearly a dozen onshore casinos that operate out of luxury resorts in Goa and together the industry generates near $20 million each year. The booming casino industry is also likely a key contributing factor to Goa’s reputation as the destination with the best nightlife in India. Recent reports suggest that the five offshore casinos in question are to be shifted upstream and some are even speculating that operating licenses would be granted to five additional casinos, though these will likely be onshore casinos.

The number of holidaymakers travelling to Goa has been on the rise in recent years, increasing by 12 per cent since the BJP-led coalition took office in 2012. Arrivals in 2014 were up by nine per cent, when compared to the previous year. However, as a result of fewer arrivals from Russia, this was down from the 14 per cent recorded in 2013. The upward trend observed in arrivals is expected to continue with Goa’s Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar predicting that arrivals would increase to 10 million by 2017, doubling the five million visitors Goa currently welcomes each year.

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