Locals Barred From Goa’s Casinos

Goa’s chief minister, Manohar Parrikar (l.), is anxious to burnish his anti-casino credentials in response to the rise of a new national political party whose populist agenda has the industry in its crosshairs. As a result, after March 1, local residents will be barred from the state’s gambling venues.

Locals Barred From Goa’s Casinos

Goa’s flourishing casino industry may have found itself caught in a political crossfire with the government of the Indian state now promulgating a change to existing regulations that will bar local residents from entering the properties to gamble.

The amendment, which comes into effect March 1, appears to have been instituted in response to the threat posed by an upstart political party, the center-left Aam Aadmi—“Common Man” in Hindi—founded in 2012 by a pair of anti-corruption activists and rapidly emerging as a force on the national scene after capturing 28 seats in the Delhi legislature in state elections last year. The total was second only to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 31 seats and won AAP the right to form a minority coalition government, its first in India. 

The BJP is the party of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has been under attack from anti-casino advocates for months for neglecting a campaign promise to suppress the casinos.

The AAP, which is stridently anti-gambling, plans to contest 300 of the 545 seats in India’s Parliament in May’s general election, including the two allotted to Goa.

“We will be against casinos,” said AAP member Oscar Rebello. “The way in which Goa is projected as a Las Vegas is something sad and distressing.”

The new amendment, which makes it mandatory for anyone entering a casino to prove he or she is a tourist and not a local, also calls for the appointment of a gaming commissioner to regulate the industry.

Goa is one of only three jurisdictions in India to permit casinos and the only one besides Daman where they operate. Goa’s market is by far the country’s largest, with four casinos floating on cruise ships on the Mandovi River in and around the capital of Panaji and another dozen or so in tourist hotels.