Indian gambling laws are notoriously tricky, with most practices technically outlawed by an 1867 act that has never been repealed. Casinos, however, have continued to operate in both Goa and Sikkim. Whilst there are seven land based Goa casinos, they only have machine games, so it is the offshore casinos moored in the River Mandovi that attract the most attention, thanks to their table games.
However, in one of the largest pieces of Indian gambling news, the Pune bench of the National Green Tribunal has convinced the state government in Goa to prevent the opening of any new offshore casinos in the river, due to pollution issues.
The current casinos are accused of dumping waste, including garbage and “hazardous waste” directly into the river, and it is this that has caused the action from the environmentally minded party.
With confusion surrounding online casinos in India, thanks to more muddled law making, most Indian gamblers turn to foreign based websites if they do not travel to one of the casinos in Goa or Sikkim. They will find their choice limited in the Mandovi River in the future, though, should the case come to the conclusion that the casinos are an environmental hazard.
A statement from the NGT read: “Goa government and state departments are directed not to grant any permission for any new establishment of offshore casinos,” while the order was issued by Justice P Jyothimani, who added: “Considering the issues raised, which are of a grave nature, we are of the view that balance of convenience in granting an interim order is in favor of the public at large.”
Currently five casinos operate in the Mandovi River outside of Panaji, of which four are functional. Environmental groups have demanded that the large boats that host the casinos be moved from the river to the sea away from the mouth of the river.