Panaji, Oct 29 (IANS) A day after the Goa government allowed the casino industry in the state to open for business from November 1, industry stakeholders on Thursday reacted with caution to the announcement, expecting to spend some time in the red in the early days due to the impact of the pandemic.
“We are expecting to see some time in red. There is a possibility of a surge during Diwali and soon after the festival. But according to our calculations, the surge may not last long due to the pandemic,” Director of the Casino Pride Group Shrinivas Nayak said.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that casinos in the state would be allowed to run with 50 per cent capacity and with observance of all the SOPs put in place by the state and central governments.
Casinos in Goa had been shut down from March this year, since the Covid-19 outbreak. According to the Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry it has caused a loss of nearly Rs 1,000 crore to the state’s tourism industry of which the casino industry has emerged a major driver in recent times.
There are currently six offshore and ten onshore casinos operating in Goa. While the offshore casinos function from glitzy boats anchored in the Mandovi river off Panaji, the onshore casinos function from the several five star hotels in the coastal tourism savvy state.
Nayak said that the industry was more keen on protecting the health and life of casino visitors and its staffers in times of the pandemic.
“We are going to be cautious, because there are too many variables involved. For us health and life of patrons is paramount. But a start has to be made,” Nayak said.
The industry, he said, provides employment to nearly 15,000 workers and added that several businesses in the travel, tourism, hospitality and media sectors are inter-linked to the casino trade and the overall footfalls it generates.
Casino operators had in the past requested for a 15-day notice period from the state government for resumption of casino operations, in order to get their logistics in order, for restarting of the business.
While industry stakeholders had also requested the government for a waiver of the annual recurring fee — which has to be paid by the casino operators — due to the setback to business caused by the pandemic, the Chief Minister has announced that instead of paying the annual fee lumpsome, promoters could pay the recurring fee each month instead.