In a move that could trigger a debate on morality and exercising the individual rights, the BJP-led Goa government on Wednesday announced it would ban locals from entering the casinos operating in the coastal state but refused to commit any timeline for implementation.
Barring the entry of Goans into the casinos was promised by the then chief minister (late) Manohar Parrikar. However, the promise was never implemented.
Citing the Goa Gambling Policy, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told the Legislative Assembly the government will fix a date after which Goans will not be allowed to enter the gambling dens.
At present, six offshore and eight onshore casinos are operating in the coastal state.
"I am of the opinion that Goans should not be allowed in casinos. The Goa Gambling Policy makes it clear that casinos are allowed only for tourism purpose and not for Goans to visit," Mr Sawant said while speaking in the debate on the Demands for Grants on Home department.
"We have to sit and fix a date after which Goans will not be allowed to enter casinos. They would be barred from entering offshore and onshore casinos," he added.
Mr Sawant said the casinos are required for the tourism industry, as few people fly down to Goa only to gamble.
The chief minister said he had not yet studied the nuances of the Goa Gambling Act that governs the casinos.
It is not yet clear how the government proposes to implement the ban.
Welcoming the announcement, Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserratte said if Goans are banned from entering casinos, the industry will automatically shut down within seven days.
He said 90 per cent of the guests at the casinos are Goans.
Speaking in the House earlier in the day, the chief minister said the state government had earned Rs 411 crore in revenue from onshore and offshore casinos in the financial year 2018-19.
Operation of the casinos is a political hot potato in the coastal state.
Some sections of society and social organisations have been demanding closure of the casinos, terming them a social evil.
Virtually endorsing the casino industry, Mr Sawant had earlier said casinos are important for tourism in Goa.
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