Casinos are bringing in tourists, but need regulatory oversight: Goa academic

While Goa’s local economy has benefited from the rise of Indian middle class tourists thanks to its unfeathered casino industry, regulatory oversight is needed to counteract the potential ill-effects of casino gambling, says a sociology professor from South Goa.

The research paper, published by Dr. Afonso Botelho, an associate professor of Sociology at the Rosary College of Commerce and Arts in South Goa, draws parallels to Macau and Las Vegas on a number of issues, but ultimately urges for the government to set up an authority to regulate casinos in the state in order to rein in “potential negative externalities”.

“Casinos have taken strong roots in Goa and clearing the ever-growing forest of casinos is becoming more and more difficult as years roll by. The offshore casinos have almost fused with the landscape of Panaji making it almost next to impossible to visualise Panaji and the river Mandovi sans the casinos,” said the professor, quoted in Business Standard.

“Goans are aware of the potential negative externalities of casino development and would like them to be contained through necessary safeguards. The establishment of a casino controlling regulatory authority or gaming commissioner is absolutely necessary and the earlier it is established the better it would be,” said Botelho.

The study also recommends putting the onus of mitigating problem gambling on the government as well as casino operators.

“It is necessary that the government exercise greater control over casinos by increasing the age limit for casino workers, thereby preventing dropouts from schools and colleges; putting in place a comprehensive master plan by the government…” he wrote.

The study has also advocated the banning of entry to locals, or increasing the entry fees for locals to casinos.

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