Goa BJP changes tune, wants onshore casinos


Panaji : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa Tuesday watered down its aggressive ‘no-casino’ policy, saying it opposes offshore casinos but onshore casinos were a “necessary evil” for the sake of tourism in the state.

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“We are completely opposed to offshore casinos. However, onshore casinos are a necessary evil. We need it for the purpose of tourism. So many tourists come here for it,” Francis D’Souza, deputy leader of the party’s legislative wing, told reporters here.

The former state law minister said onshore casinos had only mechanised gaming machines, unlike the wide range of gambling paraphernalia available at offshore casinos.

“They are only gambling machines. In fact, you cannot even call them casinos,” D’Souza said.

Goa’s unique gambling laws permit only mechanised gambling in casinos housed in five-star hotels, while offshore casinos located onboard swanky boats are permitted live gambling.

A casino operator Monday accused the BJP of issuing licences to offshore casinos when it was in power, but D’Souza said that the party had not issued permissions to any offshore casino during its rule.

“It’s strange that casino operators are now making charges against the opposition, instead of the government. There is a nexus between the two,” he said.

The BJP, until a few weeks ago pledged to “drown all casinos into the sea”, saying that it was leading to the moral and financial ruin of hundreds of families in the state.

Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar opposed both onshore and offshore casinos, saying that the BJP would get rid of them all if the party is voted to power.