he Goa Forward Party (GFP), the alliance partners in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led State government, said Tuesday that if casinos are of no benefit to Goans, then they should be shut down. GFP general secretary Mohandas Lolienkar was speaking while responding to media questions on what is party’s stand on the casinos, which has become a major poll issue for upcoming Panaji by-elections, scheduled for May 19.
Under impression that large numbers of Goans are employed on casinos, Lolienkar said that ‘sudden shut down of the casinos will lead to unemployment to Goan youths’. However, when informed that not many Goans are employed on casinos, Lolienkar said “if that is the case, then they should be shut-down”.
Earlier speaking, GFP general secretary-organization Prashant Naik said that government needs to come out on a detail casino policy as a whole taking all the coalition partners into confidence. “Decision on casinos has to be a consensus decision,” he commented.
Last Friday, former RSS functionary and Goa Suraksha Manch candidate for the Panaji Assembly by-poll, Subhash Velingkar, said he would shift casinos operating on Mandovi river to the Arabian Sea if elected. He said as per law casinos have to be in the deep sea.
Subhash Velingkar, Goa Suraksha Manch candidate for the Panaji Assembly by-poll.
"The casino industry has not only disturbed society and culture of the state but is also polluting the Mandovi river by discharging waste water into it. We will shift these casinos from Mandovi river and send them into the deep sea," Velingkar said.
He alleged the casino lobby was allied with certain political parties and therefore no action was being taken against them. There are six offshore casinos operating on Mandovi, and the BJP-led state government had recently granted them a six-month extension to operate till September 30, 2019.
Furthermore, Bollywood superstar Sanjay Dutt believes that casinos play a big role in promoting tourism in Goa. “It’s very important I think. It (casinos) plays a big role in tourism. People go to Macau, they go to Vegas, but it is beautiful to see something like this in India,” he said on Saturday while launching ‘Big Daddy’, an offshore casino promoted by Haryana politician Gopal Kanda.
The vessel, which was opened last week, is an upgraded version of a casino previously operating at the Mandovi river there. It is actually a specially commissioned 72 m long and 24 m wide Panamanian vessel, with 110 tables spread around an area of 50,000 square feet over three decks.