Goa’s biggest offshore casino unfit, inferior: Ministry


Panaji : Casino Royale, Goa’s biggest offshore casino, is technically “inferior” and “unfit” to carry 888 passengers as per a certificate issued by the Union of Comoros, says the union shipping ministry.

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In a written submission to the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court, Deputy Director General of Shipping (Technical) Captain K.P. Jayakumar said Casino Royale “was technically inferior and unfit as per the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention to carry 888 passengers as indicated by the certificate issued by the Union of Comoros”.

Casino Royale, a passenger ship registered with the Union of Comoros, is owned by High Street Cruises Pvt Ltd.

The Bombay High Court is presently hearing several petitions from offshore casino operators who have challenged the state government’s recent decision to move the casino vessels from the Mandovi river to the Arabian Sea. The court had sought a written response from the shipping ministry in connection with the issue.

The SOLAS convention in its successive forms is regarded as the most important international treaty concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster and has since seen repeated updates.

The shipping ministry official stated in his submission that Casino Royale’s safety certificate “does not appear to be in order vis-a-vis compliance with the provisions of the SOLAS convention pertaining to safety”.

There are six offshore casinos parked off Panaji in the Mandovi river for nearly a year now, which have been visited by hundreds of thousands of patrons, both tourists and locals.

Public protests and pressure from the opposition had forced the state government to order the ships to haul anchor and park themselves at the less conspicuous Aguada Bay in the Arabian Sea. The casino operators had opposed the move in unison, approaching the high court to contest the government’s decision.