Rising Casino and Gambling Industry of Goa
Goa Casino and Gambling Market Overview
Goa, a state in Western India is a tourist paradise known for its natural beaches and scenic beauty. Number of tourists visiting the state has constantly increased over the years. It has increased at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.2 per cent between FY2009 and FY2020 and has reached 8.1 million.
Diving into Casino and Gambling Industry of Goa: Ffirst casino in Goa opened in 1999. Currently, Goa has 14 casinos in total. Six casino vessels anchored in the Mandovi river and eight land-based casinos operating out of five-star hotels. Over the past nine years, the state’s onshore and off-shore casinos have indeed contributed tax revenues of about US$175 million.
Delta Corp Group and the Pride Group chiefly dominate the off-shore casino market in Goa. It owns three off-shore gaming licenses, the Pride Group owns too and the MDLR group owns one.
Delta Corp Ltd., is the biggest casino operator in Goa. This is India’s lone public gaming and hospitality company. Delta group operates three off-shore gaming boats in the Mandovi river – Deltin Royale, Deltin Jaqk and Deltin Caravela. They also operate one onshore casino at Deltin Suites Casino hotel. In addition, they own a boutique hotel – Deltin Palms.
- Previously known as ‘Casino Royale’.
- Live off-shore gaming casino with three operational decks.
- Gaming area of over 11,000 sq. ft. with 50 tables, 30 slot machines and 400 live gaming positions.
- Dedicated dining and entertainment floor.
- Refurbished and relaunched in 2016 as India’s first floatel casino (gaming plus accommodation).
- High-end product focused exclusively for nascent VIP market.
- 107 gaming positions.
- Luxury-suites and spa facilities.
The Deltin Suites is a land-based casino hotel with 106 rooms. It also operates a gaming area of around 3,000 sq. ft. It has 70 gaming positions, over 10 live gaming tables and slot machines. Deltin Palms is a 27-room boutique hotel.
This group is the second largest casino operator in Goa.
It started with Hotel Neo Majestic in 2007. Casinos operated by Pride Group have lower entry fees and cater more to mass customers. It has two off-shore casinos – Casino Pride and Casino Pride 2. Group also operates two small land-based casinos – Casino Palms and Casino Paradise.
Goa: the go-to-destination for gambling
Casino and Gambling Industry of Goa is expected to witness unprecedented growth in the coming years due to the following reasons:
- Consolidated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy Circular 2017 prohibits FDI in lottery business. This includes government/private lottery, online lotteries, gambling and betting including casinos etc. Foreign technology collaboration is not possible under this policy. Currently, Casino Gambling is legal only in two Indian states. They are Goa and Sikkim and one Union Territory – Daman and Diu.
- State Government of Goa has the authority under law to issue licenses and rules to regulate casinos. These licenses are typically for a 10-year period. Licenses are the biggest entry-barriers. Strict regulations and a cap on the number of licenses makes it further difficult for new casinos to enter the market. Sikkim has only three casinos and Daman has one. Since Goa has the maximum number of casinos in India, it is the go-to-destination for gambling addicts.
- As seen in the table below, the application/renewal fee for casinos has increased to US$ 40,500 during FY18 from NIL in FY2015.
- There were some concerns such as traffic, pollution issues and disturbance to fishing for the off-shore casinos at Mandovi river. Thus, the State Government is planning to shift all its off-shore casinos to land by the end of 2021. Only after the international airport gets commissioned, this will be done. This move will actually be beneficial to the industry that has been demanding this for a long time.
- Government is planning to shift all its off-shore casinos to land in the next few years. In fact, these casinos have an option to move to land at the Special Entertainment Zone. Goa government has banned locals from gambling in all casinos from February 1, 2020.
- The off-shore operators will have to give up their licenses and operate on-shore once the on-shore casinos become operational. The ‘New Casino Policy’, which was expected to be released in 2018, is still awaited. After the policy is implemented, the ‘Goa Public Gambling Act, 1976 (Amended in 2012)’ will undergo further amendments. The act currently allows on-shore casinos to be set up only at five-star hotels or off-shore vessels.
- The Goa Government has announced that it will not grant any more permissions for casinos, whether land-based or floating, in the state. As a result, the number of casinos in Goa will remain the same. Furthermore, more tourists, growing at a rate of 10.4 percent, are expected to flock to these casinos in the coming years.
Online Gambling is catching up in India
In India, the only form of legal betting is on horse racing. However, Sikkim stands out as the only state with a law on online gaming. Under this law, online lottery and betting from individuals across India are permitted. Additionally, Indian gamblers have the option to visit international websites and participate in online casinos.
The online gaming market in India has witnessed significant growth in recent years. In 2019, it was estimated to be worth around US$ 1.1 billion, and projections suggest that it will reach US$ 2.8 billion by 2022. As part of this burgeoning market, online gambling is gaining popularity among Indian players.
Given the limited number of brick-and-mortar casinos in the country, many Indian gamblers are now turning to online platforms for their gaming needs. This shift has contributed to the rise of online gambling as an upcoming trend in the Indian casino market. With the convenience and accessibility of online gaming, it is likely that this trend will continue to gain momentum in the years to come.