The recent anti-casino ship rhetoric from the opposition party in Goa may have had more to do with upcoming elections than anything else. But the result has been to spur the government to finally come up with a clear set of rules for the Indian state’s casino operators.
Diwan Chand, special secretary of home affairs for Goa, told the assurances committee of the state legislature that the government is drawing up a comprehensive law on casino gaming. According to the Times of India, within one month the draft legislation will be completed and presented to the law department for examination on legal details.
The government is looking at gaming legislation in force in other countries. Currently, Goa is the only state in India to have any form of legally accepted casino gaming, consisting of an increasing number of casino ships operating on the local Mandovi River and slot machine gaming in a number of hotels.
In recent months, the casino ship industry has come under increased pressure from opposition political leaders and anti-gaming organizations. Accusations have ranged from operators dumping raw sewage in the river to government officials granting gaming licenses and sailing permits illegally.
The new law is expected to contain measures on all aspects of gaming, including taxation.
Legislator Francis D’Souza wants the government to include the appointment of an agency that would be in charge of calibrating gaming machines. Currently, D’Souza said, “no one knows who is getting looted in the casinos.”
The legislation is also expected to set out clear operating rules for casino ships, defining what constitutes an offshore casino. At present, the ships remain within the territorial waters of India at all times, a situation that does not meet the internationally accepted definition of “offshore.”
The former director of the Shipping Corporation of India, Captain Taru Hazari, has said that casino ships should be anchored at least 12 nautical miles from shore, the Times reports. The ships were recently ordered to move out of the city limits to Aguada Bay, only about three-tenths of a mile from shore.
After the law department has completed its examination, the bill will be presented to the legislature. Chand said this will probably occur during the July session.