Casino vessel seized

| 29 March 2001 22:20 IST

Asia's first vessel of a live casino is caught up in troubled waters once again. On the charges of evading excise duties, the central excise authorities have seized the vessel before it could complete one month of its operation.

M V Caravella, the 215 feet long vessel, is being leased out to Advani Pleasure Cruise Company Pvt Ltd who runs a live casino on it in collaboration with Casino Austria International. The ship originally belongs to Waterway Shipyard.

According to M A F Monteiro, the assistant commissioner of customs and central excise, the Waterway Shipyard had not paid the excise duty at the time of manufacturing, at the rate of 16 per cent of its total value, under the central excise tariff rules.

After realising that the vessel owner has evaded huge amount of duties, the preventive and intelligence wing on 28 March seized the vessel, which was anchored just opposite its office in Panaji in river Mandovi. The state government has provided them a jetty there, hardly 100 metres away from the state secretariat.

Though the central excise authorities have calculated the duty evasion at around Rs 2.5 crore by valuing the vessel at Rs 15 crore, Monteiro said the final valuation would be done only after actual physical inspection is conducted. "We have nothing to do with the casino", he clarified.

Sunder Advani, the owner of the Renaissance Goa Resort who also owns Asia's first live casino of actual table games, had planned to begin its operation from first week of January. It however got delayed almost by a month since the company had not paid the annual licence fee of Rs 50 lakh to the state government.

The extravagant ship built with imported fire-retardant interiors houses four tables of American Roulette, six tables of Black Jack, one table of 'Paplu' (name for Rummy in India) and eight electronic slot machines, besides private gaming rooms. It also houses a lavish restaurant with multi-cultural cuisine, a bar, barbecue area on the top deck, sundeck entertainment and a swimming pool.

The offshore casino has however become a major controversy with several political parties and NGOs demanding its closure. The ruling BJP had also opposed it in the past, but claims that it had to be allowed now since erstwhile Congress government had already issued the licence. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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