Gaming commission, onshore casino policy kept on backburner

Panjim: The much debated and long pending proposal to appoint a Gaming Commission has been kept on the backburner once again by the BJP-led State government, for whom the resumption of iron ore mining is the top most priority, at this point.

The Land Casino Policy, which will speak about shifting offshore casinos to land and appointment of Gaming Commission, are the two issues that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take up once the mining issue is resolved, Minister for Ports Michael Lobo told media persons on Wednesday.

“For now, the top priority for the State government and the chief minister is resumption of mining activities. The day mining starts, the CM will take up all other issues concerning the casino industry,” Lobo said.
“Or else people will think that the CM is framing policies for casinos and no policy or decision to protect livelihood of lakhs of people dependent on mining,” he added.

Speaking about gaming commission, Lobo said that a lot of debate has taken place in last seven years but still it has not come up. “It has to fall in place and I feel the CM should take it up after the Budget session. The Gaming Commission is very much required for transparency and other aspects as far as casinos are concerned,” he said.

When asked about the proposal to shift offshore casinos to land, the Minister said that it was a decision taken during then chief minister (late) Manohar Parrikar. “Casino owners had agreed to the proposal but suggested that they should be given time and be allowed to have live gaming. The same was agreed by the then CM, who had said that soon we will come out with the Land Casino Policy for the State of Goa,” he said.

Lobo said that the policy is also pending and the same will be taken up by the chief minister shortly. He said that once the policy comes up, the off shore casinos will be shifted in phased manner.
Lobo said that the decision to streamline casino industry is important as it is part of the tourism activity in Goa and India. “Lot of tourists come to Goa, both Indians as well as foreigners, for this particularly activity (casino),” he said.

“Casinos are part of tourism activity in Goa and in India and we have to agree to this. A lot of people do not agree to this…but as a stakeholder of the tourism industry, I agree to this,” he added.

In 2012, the State government had proposed to appoint Gaming Commission to keep a watch on the functioning of casinos, both off shore and land. [H]