For failing to get mandatory license from the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), Goa government today ordered closure of two offshore casinos anchored in Mandovi river. In its order, the state Home Ministry asked two offshore casino vessels M V Casino Royale and M V Arabian Sea King to shut their operations.
MV Arabian Sea King belongs to M/s Victor Hotels and Motels, while Casino Royale is owned by M/s Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment. In India, Goa is the only state to have offshore casinos. The government order, signed by under secretary (Home) VP Dangi said that it is mandatory for the off shore casinos to have license from the DGS and both the casinos have violated Goa Anti-Gambling Act. Following the order, officials said that as the operation of slot machines and gaming tables have been asked to be stopped, any gambling activity on the vessel becomes unauthorized.
To state police, excise department and department of commercial taxes for action from their side, the order has also been referred. On December 12, 2010, both the casino managements were issued show cause notices and they were given seven days time to respond on the issue of DG shipping license. To furnish the licenses, both the managements had sought additional time, which was not granted by the Home department. Department of Ports sources said that only four off shore casinos i. e. Casino Royale, Casino Caravelha, Casino Pride and Casino Carnival, out of the seven casinos are operational before the fresh announcement of closure.
To enforce the order issued by the home ministry at the earliest, the official further said that the district magistrate and the local police had been instructed. Of the six offshore casinos operating in Mandovi river, for violating the laws, one was closed earlier by the state Home Ministry. Just three floating casinos are left in the river, which flows along Panaji, with the closure of two more casinos. From civil activists too, offshore casinos in Goa have been facing opposition. For projecting Goa as a gambling destination, they are seeking a ban on them.