Published: April 25, 2022

After 3 years, gaming commissioner for casinos to get powers

Apr 24, 2022

PANAJI: The home department has framed rules to streamline and regulate casino operations. A senior government officer said that the rules have been sent to chief minister Pramod Sawant for final approval.

In March 2019, the state government had appointed the commissioner of commercial taxes as the gaming commissioner, but since the rules were not framed, his duties were not defined.

The senior government officer said that once approved and notified, it will be the first time that such rules for regulating casino operations will come into force.

As per the draft rules, the gaming commissioner is empowered to exercise overall control over the games conducted in the designated areas and is authorised to maintain the records and documents in connection with the games.

The senior officer said that as per the proposed rules, the gaming commissioner will have the power to issue entry tickets for the casinos.

Presently, the entry tickets are directly issued by the casino operators. Once the rules come into force, the gaming commissioner will maintain a record of the number of visitors to a casino. “Next day, the gaming commissioner will be able to check the inventory to find how many people entered a casino,” the officer said while elaborating about the rule.

The senior officer said that casino licencing and collection of annual recurring fees is handled by the home department, once the rules come into force, the gaming commissioner will monitor the casino operations.

The senior officer further said that in case of any complaint, the home department looks into it, but once the rules are notified, the gaming commissioner will be empowered to take cognisance and act accordingly.

The proposed rules will give the commissioner the right to order closure, to seal any casino in a five-star hotel or to take custody of any casino vessel if there are any violations, the senior officer said. While exercising this power, the commissioner will have to make an inventory of all the items taken into custody, the senior officer said.

In his budget speech, the chief minister had said, “My government intends to notify new rules for casino operations in the state under the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, which will streamline and regulate the operations of casinos in the state.”

The state government had notified the Goa Public Gaming (Amendment) Act, 2012, to ban the entry of Goans into the six offshore and nine onshore casinos in the state from February 1, 2019.

The senior officer said that the ban on entry of Goans into casinos has not been implemented as the government’s decision has been challenged in the high court.

Goa has six offshore casinos and dozens of onshore casinos.

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