Panaji Mayor proposes casino gaming commission

PRAKASH KAMAT/THE HINDU, PANAJI | 18 September 2013 18:05 IST

Mayor of Corporation of City of Panaji Surendra Furtado has demanded setting up of a Gaming Commission in the State in association with the CCP to regulate the activities of casinos.

The demand assumes significance in view of the fact that the State government which had passed a Bill to set up such a regulatory body with a Gaming Commissioner heading it.

However, the delay in setting up the commission has irked the activists and women’s collectives, who are demanding a crackdown on casinos. The groups have been demanding ouster of the offshore casino vessels from Manodvi river.

Emphasising on the need for CCP’s involvement in the regulatory Commission, Mr. Furtado said that casinos contribute over Rs.150 crore (fiscal year 2012-13) annually to the exchequer. But they also contribute to excessive and unmanaged traffic, adversely affect sewerage and garbage management systems and thereby inconvenience people of Panaji.

Calling for setting up a regulatory authority in the wake of growing complaints about violation of rules, Mr. Furtado said: “Assessing the recent developments and incidents (including death of a youngster after falling from an off-shore casino in the river Mandovi) it is important that a Gaming Commission is set up immediately to regulate the gambling industry in Goa.”

He also criticised the move to model the commission on the lines of the Nevada Gaming Commission that regulates gambling in the world’s casino capital Las Vegas.

“This is making the situation oversimplistic. Las Vegas is a targeted casino city and the economy of the city is based on casinos and gambling activities. The name Las Vegas is associated just with gambling and people visit Las Vegas only to gamble.”

He said Goa can boast of “our rich heritage and culture amongst other things,” and demanded a unique set up where the burgeoning gaming market can be regulated while providing a fair gaming policy for the customers, the establishments and other people directly and/or indirectly connected with the industry.

Referring to the examples worldwide, he said engagement of the Gaming Commission and the CCP as the head of the civic establishment are of much importance.

He said that one of the oldest gaming boards in the world such as the British Gaming Commission had the Local Authority Liaison Unit which works with all the Borough Councils in and around Metropolitan area of London.

The unit works closely with the civic bodies.

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