Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar today said though ruling BJP is “ideologically” opposed to casinos, his government has to follow the law in granting permission to these entities. Conceding that he has legal constraints as head of government, Parsekar told the Legislative Assembly that law can be amended to restrict these “onshore gambling dens” within two km from coast.
“The Assembly has power to amend the legislation governing casinos. If people feel that this activity should be banned, then we can restrict the casino within two km from coast,” he told the House. He was responding to the cut motions moved by Opposition for Demands for Grants on Home department. He clarified that his government has no policy to promote casinos. “The casinos do not fit in the investment promotion policy of the state government. Government will not encourage the casinos,” he said.
Seeking to put the record straight on the issue, Parsekar said, “As per law, if there is new application fulfilling all formalities then we will have to grant them (casinos) the licences. “We can avoid (giving licence to) offshore casinos by showing that we have no place to anchor vessels, but if there is application by a five-star hotel to have an onshore casino then we cannot avoid…The law of the land is binding on me.”
He said BJP is “ideologically opposed” to casinos. “To impose the control, we have increased the fees. We have also made provision to have a gaming commissioner. We have specified powers, duties and functions,” Parsekar said, adding that the gaming commissioner will be able to check and control the casinos.
“Through him, gaming activity would be regulated and he will have powers to act against the violators. He can even close or seal the casino,” he added. Parsekar also admitted that “when state government was in financial crisis, the revenue earned from casinos helped us.”