n the same period, the casinos have experienced a growth in the cumulative revenue. The winter of 2008 -with the world’s major economic crisis taking place- was not the most obvious time to start a casino. But Jaydev Mody, a Mumbai-based real estate developer who was instrumental in setting up the shopping mall, Crossroads, had little choice but to take the plunge as plans to start an offshore casino were weeks away from fruition. Casino Royale was launched in November 2008.
The timing did not prove much of a problem. Mody’s company Delta Corp-which owns the casino business-has seen rapid growth. Its gaming and hospitality business has grown from us$ 0.24 in financial year 2008 to us$ 2.20 for the year ended March 31, 2011. Investors have noticed. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Indian best known individual investor has joined a group of 24 individual investors to put in us$ 6.10 in Delta. Jhunjhunwala, who is also an independent director on the board of Delta Corp now, says, “I am bullish about the gaming business. This is an experience business and it is here to stay...”
In three years, the number of offshore casinos has gone up from one to seven and the number of casinos in five-star hotels, known as onshore casinos, from 10 to 17. During the same period, cumulative revenue of these casinos has grown from a modest us$ 0.87 to around us$ 6.54.
“It’s not the same business anymore. This is big,” says John D’Costa, general manager of Club Prive, a casino in Goa’s Holiday Inn hotel. The casino’s footfalls have doubled in a year, and the average spend has gone up.
Global Casino operators eyeing Goa
All this has caught the attention of the world’s casino majors. Casino owners from Singapore, Macau and Las Vegas have evinced interest in Goa’s casinos. In the last few months, Mody claims he has got several calls from these foreign casino operators to tie up for technology, branding, marketing, and even running the operations.
“They all want to enter the Indian market,” he says. Most operators are trying to penetrate the fast-growing Asian markets. “This is evident in the fact that business in Las Vegas is dipping and Macau today is the biggest casino destination in terms of top line,” Mody adds.
Need for transparent regulation in India
Destinations like Macau, Philippines and Singapore are growing at an average of 30-40% a year while Goa’s casinos are growing at 50% a year, though from a lower base. For international chains to come in, the law may have to get clearer. Among Indian states, Goa and Sikkim permit gambling and casinos, while the union territory of Daman plans to have casinos.
ET reported, in its edition dated April 25, that the centre has asked states to establish statutory bodies on the line of the Nevada Gaming Commission or the Singapore Casino Authority to regulate the organised gambling industry. Gambling, also often referred to as gaming, is a state subject in India. Public gambling, with the exception of horse-racing, is largely banned in India.