Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Friday said his government has not been able to put an end to casino business because of the pro-investor environment in India and the legal protections that investors enjoy.
“Not just our government. The central government too woos investors by organising so many summits. Therefore, I will not abruptly kick out investors who have invested in the state,” he said.
No more casinos would, however, be allowed to set up business in Goa, considering that there is so much public opposition to them, said Parsekar who heads the coalition government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.
The BJP came to power in 2012, promising that it will put an end to the onshore and offshore casino businesses in Goa.
After coming to power, then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and now his successor Parsekar have been citing various reasons why they cannot do away with the casino industry.
Parsekar also said on Friday that “it would not be right (to stop the casino business)”.
“The other party will go to the court of law. There is a law of the land. They will get a stay order. You (media) will write tomorrow ‘a slap on the face of chief minister’. Will it be tolerable? Is it right?” Parsekar said.
The existing casinos also cannot be denied renewal of licences, he said.
“Those casinos which were here are being renewed. Those people who were given permissions, whose licences were renewed, who paid money for it… they cannot be told unilaterally that you leave. This is my position. I have not brought in new casinos,” Parsekar said.
One of the top beach and nightlife tourism destinations in the country, Goa first opened up to casinos in the late 1990s under the then Congress regime, which amended the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, to provide licences to one offshore casino and a string of five-star hotels.
In its 2007-12 stint in power, the Congress once again granted licences to seven more offshore casinos, of which only four now survive.
While in opposition, the BJP had been leading a sustained campaign against the casino industry.