Gambling on a Slow Passage to India

Published August 18, 2008

Gambling on a Slow Passage to India

The Indian state of Goa, like Macau, is a former Portuguese colony. Some in the Indian government would like to turn Goa into a Macau-like gambling capital.

Lately, many Indian states have realised the potential posed by the gambling industry. Reports over the past few years have showed tremendous increases in state profits from lotteries.

At the moment, the profits from the small amount of gambling there is - one casino exists in Goa, and only lotteries and horse racing are legal to bet on - is very small in India. The figures comes in at about 6.65 per cent, paltry when compared to the United States market which shows profits of 30-45 per cent. The feeling is that if the gambling industry is properly organised, significant sums could accrue to states.

Gambling as entertainment

The second argument in favor of legalising gambling is that it provides a choice for the consumer. Gambling is a consumer activity with entertainment value. Service providers want to maximise their profits and compete with other industries to get a share of the consumer's disposable income.

Casino Goa is India's only legal casino. It is located offshore on a yacht, the MV Caravela, which is anchored in the River Mandovi. The casino vessel is worth 2.5 million US dollars and is owned by the Advani Pleasure Cruise Co Ltd in a joint venture with Casinos Austria.

Local politics

In 2007, State of Goa officials decided to expand the number of licenses for off-shore boating casinos tenfold in Goa in an attempt to attract large numbers of foreign tourists from the Arabian Peninsula. Despite objections by the BJP party, the Goa government is all set to permit four more offshore casinos on ships already anchored in the Panaji port.

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