Goa casinos to reopen after four months of closures

goa, casinos

Casinos in Goa will be allowed to reopen Monday, allowing those who are fully vaccinated or provide a negative Covid-19 test to enter, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Sunday. 

Along with casinos, the government expert committee has allowed spas and massage parlours to reopen as well, though major events such as music festivals have not yet been permitted to reopen. 

“The (state government’s) expert committee compared the (Covid-19) positivity rate over the last two-three weeks and it has been under 2 percent. In order to revive economic activity and tourism activity, casinos have been allowed to reopen on Monday with strict SOPs (standard operating procedures),” said Sawant, as reported by the Indian Express. 

There are six offshore casinos in Goa, as well as a number of casinos located in five-star hotels in the state.

Shrinivas Nayak, director, Majestic Pride Group, which operates the Majestic Pride Casino on the Mandovi, said: “It has been a very hard time. In the first lockdown, we were shut for about seven months. This time, it was for about four months and 20 days. We (Majestic Pride Casino) have nearly 2,500 employees and we could not have laid them off. That is not human. We had no revenue but we still had to bear 70-80 percent of our expenses. The lockdown was uncertain and it kept extending week by week.”

He said, “The government was losing revenue in terms of GST and license fees. This is a big percentage of revenue for a small state. On average, casinos provide Rs 50 crore to Rs 80 crore per month revenue to the state government in direct revenue, the Centre gets the same revenue, and there is also indirect revenue that comes from hotel occupancy, which will increase their GST.”