Though legally accepted in Goa, the off-shore casinos over the last few months have been facing the ire of the locals and politicians alike. However Casino operators are surprised about the issues raised by the activists since Casino tourism is a growing business concept in Goa. Goa Chronicle speaks to Narinder Punj, managing director, High Street Cruises and Entertainment Pvt Ltd – a division of Delta Corp one of the foremost players in the Casino business in Goa … .
How did your company manage to muscle the CM in order to go back on his statement made during the assembly session on moving the casinos to sea?
We did not muscle the CM or any politician for that matter we simply stated certain legal facts which were overlooked by the current government during the Assembly section, which later on the CM clarified. As far as all legalities are concerned, speaking for my company we have adhered to all necessary compliance standards set by the government of Goa.
Is it not true that the vessels used at this point of time are river vessels and they will not be able to be moved out into the sea?
Yes, the vessels used are river vessels. So it would not be safe to move the vessels out to sea. Also safety and security of the visitors to the off-shore casino is of prime importance on the river it is easier to ensure that will ferrying the passengers to and from the vessel, in the sea it might get rough and unsafe.
Casino activist say is a vice and one of the evil of society affecting the locals of Goa?
Casino is not a vice but a form of entertainment. If however, it is considered to be a vice, then, the logic of restrictions to casinos should be applied to also the on-shore casino wherein the government has made the entry fee even more less for people to attend. Off-shore with its high entry fee and taxes are entertainment for people who have that kind of disposable income to spend, here in itself in the restriction. As far a local people are concerned most casino visitors to our casinos are domestic and international tourists.
While Casino tourism might be a growing concept in India and for Goa; many feel that there aren’t many job opportunities for the locals?
I cannot comment on the HR practices of the other casino companies, but, we have a healthy mix of Goans and Indians from other parts of the country employed. We believe in creating employment opportunities and with some Goans having a good hospitality education and background of course we look to hire them. Hospitality is one skill set and casino dealer management another skill set, which are often learned and imparted through our training programs.
Owing to the recent activism against casinos in Goa, do you see your organization further expanding its business in Goa?
Of course, we are very optimistic and bullish on the tourism potential in Goa and its resulting impact on the Casino business. Setbacks are part and parcel of any business, so we take the brickbats as it comes. Yes, over the next couple of months we will be having the Ramada Caravela and also some on-shore casino as part of our existing portfolio.
Who is the lesser of the two evil, the politician or the activist?
It is solely depends on the situation we are faced. However, our main interest has been business and growth of the business in Goa, which in turn helps the economy and in employment generation. Genuine issues where we have faulted on legal terms, I can understand. However, issues without any logic, fact or solution is pure harassment and at times we see the evil is both the politician and activist.