The controversy about floating casinos off Mandovi river have remained a contentious issues since awhile now. We have known for years now that this has been a never-ending dispute among the political parties in Goa. Numerous discussions and deadline extensions have been taking place since the month of April 2018.
Currently, after extending since the past two years, the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant-led State cabinet on Wednesday granted a further six-month extension to operate in River Mandovi till March 31, 2021, as the government is yet to identify an alternative site for their relocation. The present extension is for six months and will lapse on 30 September. The state cabinet has further approved the extension from October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
There are six offshore casinos operating in River Mandovi, they include MV Horseshoe Casino, MV Pride of Goa, MV Casino Royale, MV Argosy IV, MV Royale Flotel and MV Lucky. The then BJP-led government had taken a policy decision in 2013 to relocate the offshore casinos from River Mandovi. However, the failure to identify an alternative site forced the government to grant them a series of extensions to continue in the river since March, 2014.
Due to the coronavirus induced pandemic, all the six casino vessels have been shut since March-end. Though ‘Unlock’ has been taking place in a phased manner, the State government is yet to take a call on resuming casino operations. Panjim Mayor Uday Madkaikar said, “The CCP has decided not to renew the trade licence of the offshore casinos. The licences were due for renewal after March 31.”
Meanwhile, the license issued under the Goa Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 to MV Horseshoe Casino expired in Aug 2018 and renewal process is under process. While the licence of one other casino will lapse in 2021, the licences of the remaining four casinos are valid until 2023. The Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) has maintained that it will not renew the trade licences of offshore casino vessels, anchored in River Mandovi.
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