Goa Congress today accused Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of proposing to amend the Gambling Act to allow the Sahara Group-owned offshore casino vessel to operate in the state waters, a charge dismissed by ruling BJP as "cheap election gimmicks". "Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has been pro-active in amending the existing Gambling Act so as to make way for Sahara Group-owned off-shore casino. Parrikar had a meeting with Subrata Roy in Lucknow during his recent visit for BJP meeting," Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president John Fernandes told reporters here.
The state government is amending the gambling policy to allow the transfer of casino so that Sahara Group-owned 150-seat casino vessel can operate in Goa, Fernandes alleged and added the government should have actually phased out the offshore casinos.
Goa has six offshore casinos which are operating in Mandovi river in addition to the dozen of casinos in the five star hotels.
Sahara's vessel named Quing is currently docked at Western India Shipyard and it will replace one of the existing casinos, the Congress leader claimed. "The casinos should operate only in five-star hotels and not in the waters," Fernandes said.
BJP, however, has rejected the allegations and hit back at Congress saying the party was indulging in "cheap publicity gimmick in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls." BJP Goa unit president Vinay Tendulkar rubbished the allegations levelled by Fernandes. "These are all cheap election gimmicks. We have already made our stand clear that off-shore casinos will move out by 2017. Where is the issue of having connection with any company?" he said.