Even as Goa still can’t find out what to do with its shipboard gambling operations, casinos might soon float off the coast of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Indian media announced that Andhra Pradesh’s state government was ‘exploring the feasibility’ of authorizing an unspecified number of floating casinos that would provide gambling along the long coastline of the state facing the Bay of Bengal.
Andhra Pradesh is planning floating casinos
No representative of the AP government has so far been on record to confirm the report, but an official who requested anonymity said the reason was simple: “the state has no resources” and taxes for hiking are running out. A second unnamed official said that “for some time now” the floating casino concept had been “explored.”
The announcement’s timing is unusual, coming just a month after changes to state gambling laws to criminalize online poker, rummy and other ‘skill’ games were legalized by the AP government. The new rules are not only targeted at operators, as people may face six months behind bars just for playing poker online.
So far, within their boundaries, only Goa and Sikkim have allowed casino gambling operations, and those operations have been closed since March as local governments tried to mitigate the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the state government still has not worked out a permanent long-term strategy for its marine gambling industry, Goa’s six floating casinos obtained another six-month stay of execution late last month. The most recent six-month extension was due to expire on September 30th, the latest in a series of extensions released over the past few years.
The casinos now have to stay in their current spots on the Mandovi River until March 31st, 2021. Still, the government has yet to suggest any timetable for restart gaming operations. Four casinos retain licenses that expire in 2023, while one casino’s license expires next year. The MV Horseshoe’s license originally expired in 2018 but is currently looking for renewal.
The City of Panaji Corporation (CCP), which has to deal with disruptions caused by the on-shore operation of the casinos, said last October that when they expired at the end of March, it would not renew the commercial licenses of the casinos. The pandemic shutdown has reduced this stance’s urgency, but the CCP recently said that it had not changed its position on this subject.