With the debate around the offshore casinos parked in the Mandovi river intensifying, Goa Ports Minister, Michael Lobo, has signaled that the state’s offshore casinos could be moved to the upcoming Mopa International Airport in North Goa.
Reiterating what Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said defending the presence of casino gambling industry in the coastal state, Lobo said that casinos are crucial for the state’s economy and that they drive significant tourism. He also affirmed that shutting the casinos is not on the table and never was.
Explaining why he is not against casino gambling in the state, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said that he believes that tourism is the backbone of Goa’s economy and casinos attract tourists.
The Chief Minister had further explained that the state is benefitting by collecting both direct and indirect revenues from the flourishing tourism industry, thanks to Goa’s casinos.
“Once the Mopa airport work starts, we will give the casinos a time period of four years, five years or six years to get land there and shift on the ground,” Lobo told reporters at the State Secretariat on Wednesday.
“Once we know when the Mopa airport will be functional and when flights will start operating from there, the casino policy will be released and the casinos can start relocating there,” he explained.
The opposition has already opposed any move on the part of the government to relocate Offshore casinos in the state.
“We strongly condemn the state government’s proposal to relocate the offshore casinos in the Mandovi river to the Aguada bay. The area is home to the dolphin species, which will be put at risk if the casinos are shifted there,” state Congress spokesperson Agnelo Fernandes said.
The first phase of the airport is expected to be completed in 2020.