Draft Gaming Rules to be revised in view of increased casino fees, extended relocation deadline; Home Department, CM making changes to prepare foolproof document
PANJIM: The State government is set to revise the draft Gaming Rules to establish that visitors on board casinos are non-Goans and above the age of 21 years.
The file, that was recalled from the Law Department last December, and redrafted based on casino rules in Macau, is undergoing further amendments in view of recent developments such as increasing of casinos fees and extending deadlines to shift the offshore casinos out of River Mandovi.
The original draft of the Goa Public Gambling Rules, a copy of which is in possession of Herald, speaks about establishing the identity of a casino visitor through residential proof and/or ‘tourist permit’. This comes with a warning to suspend the licence of a casino operator if found in violation of the terms and conditions.
But since there is no other mechanism to distinguish between a Goan and a non-Goan, the Home Department in consultation with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (also Home Minister) are making changes to prepare a foolproof document.
“There will be certain amendments to the existing draft, particularly in the area where there is no detailed specification to verify the identity of a casino visitor. There are many instances wherein persons living in Goa for a certain number of years continue to possess identity proof of their home State. Some of our locals too are settled abroad for the purpose of education or employment. All this will be defined in the upcoming draft,” an official said. “Once everything is in place, a policy decision will be taken.”
New decisions of the government, such as extending the deadline by six months, to re-locate the six offshore vessels to an alternative site and fee hike will be incorporated.
The revised draft, the official said, will also specify whether or not Goans will be allowed in the restaurant area in the casinos as government’s objection is to gaming only. Parrikar had recently said spoken of his government’s plans to ban locals in the casinos.
“I sincerely believe that gambling is not good. If we can we should remove it from the State. It is human nature to gamble that is why we cannot eradicate it completely, but definitely we cannot encourage it. That is why we had decided on a policy to ban Goans from going to casinos. Lot has been done about it and in the days to come there will be complete ban on locals going to casinos,” he had said in an interview a week ago.
The present draft states that if any person is found without a ticket or proof of residence, a fine of Rs 2000 each will be imposed on the licencee and the person. Repeated violations of three times in a calendar month would render the license to be suspended for a period of 15 days.
The rules also spell out constituting a Gaming Commission to supervise the activity, and task it with checking the records on a regular basis. Either the Gaming Commissioner or an authorised person will have the powers to sell Tourist Permits to ensure that only tourists visit casinos.
“The licencee shall ensure that only tourists with a valid tourist permit, upon payment of entry fee, shall be allowed entry in casino. The details of the permit should be entered on the Entry Ticket issued by the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes and the full record indicating the ticket and permit number shall be maintained,” the draft copy adds.
The authorised person is allowed to purchase the Tourist Permit at a discount of 15 percent of the selling price and sell it to the tourist at the selling price. “The balance will be his commission. In case he/she sells the permit to person other than a tourist, he/she shall be liable for a fine which is ten times the amount of fee payable for the permit. During a second offence, his authorisation shall be cancelled,” the draft states, adding, “The tourist may also purchase the permit directly from the Gaming Commissioner at selling price.”