Offshore casinos in Goa, operating in the Mandovi River, have been given a year extension, announced the state government on Thursday. The additional 12 months period was proposed as authorities have yet to determine an alternative site where the vessels can be shifted.
The Government of Goa said that the home department, along with the Captain of Ports (CoP), had “tentatively identified” four sites to relocate the offshore casinos, reports The Times of India.
The proposed locations include the mouth of the Mandovi River near Aguada Jail, another two alternative locations in Zuari River –one east of the bridge and the other west of the bridge–, and a last option in the Chapora River.
A notice had been issued inviting objections from the public to the proposed locations. Several were received, both from individuals and local self-governments in villages.
“Since the identified sites were found to be technically not feasible, the issue of relocating the offshore casinos from River Mandovi could not be finalized,” stated a note by the Goa cabinet.
The extension to operate the offshore casinos is subject to the condition that they shall shift out of River Mandovi “whenever an alternate feasibly site is finalized” by the government, further reports the previously cited news source.
During elections in 2019, politician Atanasio Monserrate said he would remove the offshore casinos from the river within 100 days of getting elected as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).
While the government also identified a location along the coast at Verem, near Reis Magos, and one casino operator had agreed to shift to this location, the agreement fell through due to opposition from Saligao MLA Jayesh Salgaonkar.
Goa has six floating casinos still operating in the Mandovi River. An extension had been previously settled earlier this year, in February.
Last month, casinos in Goa reopened to tourists at half capacity as Covid-19 cases in the region slowed down. Only guests who are either fully vaccinated or show negative RT-PCR certificates will be allowed at gambling venues.
The reopening measure was taken by the state government to revive economic activity, and in anticipation of Goa's peak tourism season, expected for this month. Casino and hotels, which have become an integral part of Goa's economy, welcomed the initiative, as both businesses had been hit by closures amid a second deadly Covid-19 wave.