perators claim business has been hit by as much as 90 % in south Goa and 50 % in the north of the state since the charge was brought in. "The government is all set to drive away the casino industry, which is contributing substantially to the state's economy," Narinder Punj, from the Casino Association of Goa, told a news conference on Tuesday.
Industry figures say Goa's casinos provide jobs to some 2,000 people and indirect employment for 10,000 others. If allowed to flourish, they could generate up to us$ 14.4 million in revenue for the local economy from taxes.
Gambling is illegal in India, although Goa, which attracts some 2.4 million tourists from India and abroad every year, has been given special status and many of its casinos are on boats moored on rivers or off the coast. Last year the Congress-led Goa government decided to increase the number of offshore casino licences to boost the economy, which is largely dependent on the tourist trade.
But it ran into opposition from groups who oppose gambling on moral grounds, including the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even some Congress figures, who called for strict regulation or closure.
Punj said that few foreign tourists come to the state to gamble and most of their clientele were from other Indian states, who cannot afford the entry fee.