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Casinos protest hike in entry fee, to shut business tomorrow

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - 22:07

Panaji: Offshore and onshore casinos in the
state have decided to shut down their operations tomorrow in
protest against sharp rise in the entry fee imposed by the
state government.

Addressing a press conference, the casino operators said
their average business has dropped by over 50 per cent as the
customers are unwilling to pay the huge entry fee.
The Goa government in its recent budget had hiked the
entry fee for casinos from Rs 200 to Rs 2,000 claiming that
such an increase would discourage youngsters from gambling.

"The government is all set to drive away casino industry
which is contributing substantially to the state`s economy,"
Casino Association of Goa spokesman Narinder Punj alleged.

Six offshore and 11 land-based casinos are participating
in the protest.

Punj said nowhere in the world would one see such a steep
hike in the fees.

"We were not passing on the entry fee burden to the
customers when it was Rs 200, but now its difficult for us to
bear the fees. We have to pass it on to the customers who find
it expensive," Srinivas Nayak of `Casino Pride` said.

The casino operators said since the implementation of
revised fees, the business has gone down by 90 per cent in
south Goa and 50 per cent in North Goa.

Punj said if the status quo continues, it would be
difficult for the casinos to continue their operations in Goa.

"They will fade away," he said, claiming that casinos
provide direct employment to 2,000 youths and indirect living
for 10,000 people in the state.
"If casino industry is allowed to prosper without any
hindrances, it can generate revenue to the tune of Rs 70 crore
in form of taxes," John snowball, general manager, Maharajah
Casino, an initiative of Essel group, said.

Maharajah is awaiting its gaming licence even as its ship
is anchored in the Mandovi river.

Snowball said the company will have to shelve some of its
plans if situation continues like this.

The offshore casino operators said there is no more
scope for the casinos in the state and they have not been able
to attract clients from destinations like Macau.

"Goa is not a hardcore gaming destination. People play
here to experience," Punj said.

He said only 10 per cent of the total clientele
comprises of locals, while rest are from other states of

"Unfortunately, we have no foreign tourists gaming
here," Punj said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - 22:07

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