US NRI from Vijayawada is proposing a casino on an island in the Krishna river. The State government, however, has not taken any decision on the proposals, some of which have been pending since the bifurcation two years ago.
A casino is usually a club where gambling, eateries, amusement and entertainment venues are open round the clock. Currently, casinos are in operation in Goa, Daman and Sikkim.
The NRI, Mr. Siva Prakash Bobba, told The Hindu, “I find one of the islands in the river Krishna very much suitable for setting up a casino. I’m planning to propose it to the government. The plan is also in tune with the government’s grand design of creating a replica of Sentosa amusement park of Singapore here.”
Bhavani island near Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada has scores of sub-islands, with a total area of over 130 acres, and it hosts a Goa yacht club. The AP government plans to convert it into an amusement park, on the lines of Sentosa island which has a casino, and spreads across 122 acres.
Besides Mr. Prakash, at least six similar proposals are pending, says Andhra Pradesh Project Facilitators and Consultancy Services Limited (APPFCS) Chief Consultant and Director, K. Lakshminarayana
“Some people have proposed to set up casinos but the government has not yet taken any decision. Getting permission for a casino is difficult as we need to get a regulatory nod from the Centre and the Navy. So far, nothing has moved on these,” he said.
A Malaysian firm and a Goa company are among the casino hopefuls, say government sources. There was a proposal to set up an offshore casino near Visakhapatnam two years ago, but it has not moved beyond that, say government sources.
The State would have to amend the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974, which prohibits gambling, before any approvals can be thought of.
“The amendment Act would need provisions similar to those inserted in the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976. And other mandatory approvals from the Centre and defence are necessary,” said P.V.V.S. Murthy, former member, Consumer Forum, Vijayawada. The Goa amendments enabled setting up electronic amusement and slot machines in five star hotels, and introduction of table games and gaming on offshore vessels.
Casinos may not fit in with the culture and social fabric of Vijayawada, says management consultant MC. Das. “There are several other priorities such as underground drainage which is not yet completed ,” he says.