nder obligation from the Bombay High Court to take a call on notifying the four-decade-old Casino Act, the department is looking into various options before taking the final call.
The proposal to have casinos in Mumbai, and the possible tourism and revenue benefits from them, were discussed in a home department meeting held two weeks ago. The meeting was attended by all stake-holders, including officials from the department of tourism and culture, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), finance and revenue.
"As the first step, we have initiated a study into the implementation of the existing Acts in Sikkim and Goa – the only two states in India where casinos are allowed. The study will look into the revenue and tourism impact of starting casinos. Based on these findings, we will discuss the matter with our seniors and proceed accordingly," said Vijay Satbir Singh, principal secretary, Home Department.
Sources, meanwhile, claimed that as per an MTDC estimate, if allowed, casinos can generate an annual revenue of Rs3,000 crore across the state. Notably the Casino Act, which was framed way back in 1976, recommends that 25% of the revenue share must go to the state.
In October 2015, the Bombay High Court had asked the home department to examine the possibility of notifying the pending Maharashtra Casinos (Control & Tax) Act-1976. "In the backdrop of the RM Lodha committee recommendations, the government should allow it at the earliest. It is a good Act as it has a lot of safeguards in terms of preventing under-age gambling and addictions. If allowed, it will fetch thousands of crores for the state as revenue," said Jay Sayta, a law student who had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking directions to the government to implement the Act passed by the Assembly and published in the government gazette in July 1976.
As per the petition, the government has till date not issued a notification implementing the Act. The court, while disposing off the PIL, said it was the executive's decision on when and whether to implement the Act, but asked the government to take its decision within a reasonable time. Sayta further claimed that under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, it received the Governor's assent to the legislation given on July 22, 1976.
Last December, Sayta wrote a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, requesting him to notify the Act, but there was no response. The Act provides for licensing of casinos, permitting certain types of casino games, taxation of the money paid or agreed to be paid by the participants by way of stakes or bets, and so on.