Goa recently concluded its state elections and the chief minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar who belongs to the BJP party succeeded in winning office for another term. Parrikar has been accused by opponents of the casino industry during the last couple of years of siding with the casino industry and allowing offshore casinos to operate on the River Mandovi and create social hazards which included pollution and gambling addictions.
Parrikar recently addressed the media and made it clear that he is against the casino industry and his government is pushing a new bill that seeks to ban locals from accessing casinos in the state. Goa, Daman and Sikkim are the only three places in India which allows casinos to operate and Indians from all over the country flock to these casino resorts, especially in Goa which is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the country.
In an interview to DD News, a local news channel, the chief minister Manohar Parrikar said “I sincerely believe that gambling is not good. If we can we should remove it from the state. It is human nature to gamble that is why we cannot eradicate it completely, but definitely we cannot encourage it. That is why we had decided on a policy to ban Goans from going to casinos. Lot has been done about it and in the days to come there will be complete ban on locals going to casinos.”
Goa’s casino industry generates a significant amount of revenue in the form of gambling taxes for the state government and also boosts tourism numbers as it attracts domestic and international tourists. The casino industry is also responsible for generating thousands of jobs for the locals and a crackdown on the gambling industry will impact the state in numerous ways. However it appears that the first crack of the whip against the casino industry will be towards the locals.
While many in the state are happy to see Parrikar announce steps towards curbing the growth of the casino industry, there are also a large number of Goans who are disappointed with the BJP government’s move to ban them from accessing the casinos. They believe it is a move that restricts their freedom by preventing them from choosing where they want to go and what they want to do.
However the move does not come as a big surprise as the Parrikar government has announced in the past that it would consider banning locals from casino entry. There have been allegations that the BJP government draws a lot of its influence and ideologies from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right wing Hindu nationalist organization that has been responsible for encouraging the BJP government to take decisions throughout the country, especially in BJP led states that will crack down on all forms of social evil.
Some of these acts include moral policing in Uttar Pradesh – where police squads roam the streets to break up, punish and arrest any youth who are found to be eve teasing; cow slaughter where anyone found to have slaughtered a cow are put behind bars and even given life imprisonment in states like Gujarat and now planning to ban locals from entering casinos in Goa. The Parrikar government also announced that it would crackdown on rave parties in the state and not allow any music to be played after 10 pm as per the law.
Parrikar also confirmed that his government will move forward with the plan to relocate the offshore casinos from the River Mandovi. In the past, the move was abandoned as the offshore casinos stated that they were unable to find a suitable location as the waters were turbulent and not suitable for them to anchor. Parrikar gave them an extension to operate from the River Mandovi but it now appears that they will once again have to scout for a new home or be faced with the possibility of shutting down for good.
The chief minister stated that he would not shut down the casino industry immediately as he realized that a number of investors had pumped in a lot of money but promised that the industry would not expand any further.