Liquor curbs ahead of polls affecting Goa’s casinos (Lead)

January 27th, 2012 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Jan 27 (IANS) Ban on sale of liquor post-11 p.m. in poll-bound Goa is affecting the state’s night life, the casino lobby has said and feared that these offshore and on-shore pleasure joints would have to be closed down if the restrictions remain.

Protesting the curbs on selling and serving liquor imposed in view of the state assembly elections March 3, Casino Pride’s promoter Shrinivas Nayak speaking for the casino industry asked the state authorities to reconsider their move.

Addressing media persons here, Nayak pointed out that election candidates could not “afford to sponsor” expensive drinks at casinos for their workers, clearly implying that fears of “drink for votes” malpractice were misplaced.

He urged the poll authorities to reconsider the ban when it came to casino operations and five-star hotels in the state.

“Some 95 percent of our business is from tourists who come to Goa for its night life and enjoyment. With this decision, tourists are getting upset and are cancelling their bookings,” Nayak said.

Nayak said a representation was made by the casino lobby to chief secretary Sanjiv Srivastava Friday.

Tourism and travel organisations in Goa have already expressed their dissatisfaction at the decision.

“We have said that candidates cannot afford to entertain their voters in casinos as there is a Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 entry fee to onshore and offshore casinos respectively,” Nayak said.

“We have already received a lot of cancellations. Our footfalls have come down by 70 percent in just two days after the order was issued,” said Anil Melvani, an official of Casino Royale, another offshore casino.

“Keeping in mind the potential losses to the casino industry in particular and tourism industry in general, we have requested the authorities to relax the ban in case of casinos and five star hotels,” he said.

In a circular issued earlier this week, district returning officer and north Goa district magistrate Mihir Vardhan had imposed restrictions on sale of liquor beyond 11 p.m. till Feb 5. From Feb 5 to March 6, the ban shrinks from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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