Panaji, March 23: Casino culture is slowly taking root in Goa, state tourism minister Dileep Parulekar said Saturday.
Parulekar was speaking to reporters about striking a balance between cultural tourism, which the Goa tourism ministry is keen on promoting, and casino tourism, which is increasing, getting to be one of the state’s top billings as far as attracting tourists is concerned.
“I must admit that casino culture is taking root in Goa. As far as I am concerned, casinos should not be seen in Goa, (though) now they are sitting in the river.”
The tourism minister was referring to the five offshore casinos currently functioning in the Mandovi river, which flanks the state capital.
Apart from the five offshore casinos, Goa also boasts of over a dozen onshore casinos, which are located in the state’s numerous five star hotels, many of which dot the coastline.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised to move the casinos away from the Mandovi river into the Arabian sea, in true spirit of the term “offshore”, Parulekar said that the party was unable to do it, because of a petition pending in the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court.
Casino operations, both onshore and offshore, are normally on for 24 hours and see hundreds of thousands of tourists playing slot machines, roulette, baccarat and poker.