Mumbai May Soon Have a Casino Royal
Maharashtra govt studying state tourism corp’s proposal to allow offshore casinos
Shailesh Menon and Krishna Kumar
Mumbai: Maharashtra is studying a proposal by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation to legalise casinos in the state.
ET has exclusive details of the MTDC proposal asking the government to allow offshore casinos where only foreign tourists will be allowed initially, and once the venture becomes successful, the government may allow Indian citizens too. Aware that the proposal may invite opposition from many quarters, MTDC has suggested that the government should run the casinos in the initial phase of a couple of years instead of allowing private players. “Once it is successful, then the government could allow private players. This may give boost to government revenues and also help boost tourism in a big way,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity. Currently only Goa and Sikkim allow offshore casinos.
However, MTDC has not suggested sites for these offshore gambling establishments.
MTDC says foreigners be allowed initially at the casinos, and once venture is a success, Indians may also be allowed
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injured.— explained Jay Sayta, a researcher in gambling laws and founder of GLaws.in, a gaming laws web portal. The MTDC proposal has come in the backdrop of the aforementioned PIL. ET has learnt that a few top government functionaries and ministers are not averse to the idea of offshore casinos. But the move may not be a smooth one as the government may face opposition from its ally in the government Shiv Sena as well as from within the BJP itself.
“This casino business should not be allowed, there are other ways to earn revenue for the state. If this proposal ever comes up, I will oppose it,” said a senior BJP minister when ET sought his opinion.
However, a top bureaucrat countered him, “We are permitting lottery, lakhs of people spend their money on it yet we don’t seem to have a problem with it. Casinos and lottery both work on the principles of luck. The state has a debt of .₹ 3.30 lakh crore and this would come in handy and boost tourism too.”