Goa government under fire for casino ships

February 4th, 2009 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyPanaji, Feb 4 (IANS) Under fire from the opposition over charges of corruption in giving offshore gambling licences to ships, Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat Wednesday assured the assembly that the state’s casino policy would be reviewed.The Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar said that several offshore casinos were operating in Goa without proper licences. In the last decade, the state home ministry has given seven vessels offshore gambling licences.

“The licence given to Casino Royale is for cruising only, not for operating as a casino,” Parrikar charged.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that the offshore casino vessels operating in the Mandovi river, off Panaji were not even registered in India, but in the Cameroon Islands, off Africa.

“The ships are a public hazard and are illegal. They violate the provisions of the Goa Public Gambling Act,” Parrikar said, and accused Home Minister Ravi Naik of taking bribes for issuing the licences by blatantly flouting norms.

Backing Parrikar’s claims, Speaker Pratapsing Rane also urged the government to rectify the anomalies pointed out by the opposition at the earliest.

“Before reviewing the casino policy, the government should address this anomaly,” Rane said.

Kamat, while coming to Naik’s rescue, said that the state would review the casino policy. He also said that changes would be made in the Goa Public Gambling Act 1976 to ensure that the offshore casinos are parked more than a mile away from the coast.

“The ships are parked in the Mandovi river now and they are creating a congestion. We are looking into the matter. We will make sure the casinos are parked from 1 km to 5 km into the sea,” Kamat said.

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