The Indian state of Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal has ordered a government agency, the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, to oversee the possibility of adding casinos to a planned tourism district.
Badal sent a three-member team comprising a PIDB official and two members from a private agency, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited, on a four-day visit to Goa recently to explore the options, which could lead to Punjab becoming the third state in the country after Sikkim and Goa to have casinos.
According to an official report, the team held meetings with Goa Chief Secretary P.K. Shrivastav and Special Secretary Mohan Lal and observed slot machines in casinos in Panjim.
The Punjab casinos would be located both inside hotels and as stand-alone facilities as part of a special tourism zone planned for a wooded area surrounding the city of Mattewara. Each casino would contain around 30-50 slot machines, video poker machines and table games and be open 24 hours.
Horse racing, a golf course and an amusement park are also planned.
“The process is in the initial stages,” said Finance Minister Parminder Dhindsa. “Casinos will certainly be a big revenue generator. The purpose is not to create forced taxation here. We only want to encourage local tourism because when you see the locals from here going to Nepal or Hong Kong, they spend huge money to enjoy these games. Times have changed.”