The state government has given a small boost to the embattled casino industry as they have issued a notice allowing casinos to pay their annual fees for the financial year 20-21 on a monthly pre-rata basis.
“The annual recurring fees for the financial year 2020-2021 shall be calculated on monthly pro rata basis and the payment thereof in respect of the month of November, 2020 up to March, 2021 shall be made on or before the 5th day of such respective month. The schedule of payment of the unpaid annual recurring fees in respect of the month of April, 2020 up to October, 2020 shall be as specified by the Government by an order published in the Official Gazette”, the notification says.
The government has also declined to increase or decrease the annual fees from the previous year. Fees are calculated depending on the size of land or if it’s an offshore casino, then depending upon the capacity of the vessel. For example, at the top end, a casino with an area above 1,100 square metres pays Rs. 40 Crores. A vessel with a passenger capacity of 440 or more also pays Rs. 40 Crores.
Another piece of positive news for the casinos is that the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) has agreed to renew the licenses of the offshore casinos in the Mandovi river. The renewal period will be that of 1 year.
Panaji mayor Uday Madkaikar’s announcement comes three months after stating that CCP was firm on its stand not to renew the casino trade licenses, and a year and a half after Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate promised to move the casinos out of the Mandovi river within 100 days of winning the 2019 Panaji byelection.
“It is the government that renewed the casino licences so the CCP’s role was limited to renewing trade licenses for the casinos offices onshore. Restaurant owners, hoteliers and rickshaw drivers met us and requested us to renew their licenses as they already faced hardships (no business) due to Covid-19. So we decided to renew it. The final decision will be taken at the council meeting, but the commissioner and I have asked them to submit fresh applications. We cannot keep their trade licences on hold if the government has given them permission to operate. We will follow up with the captain of ports and ports minister Michael Lobo who gave an assurance that he would shift two casinos out of here. The two casinos were ready, but there was opposition from the people. We will follow up with them. We don’t want the casinos. We have not retracted our stand on this.”
It has also been said that CCP had increased the casino fees upto INR 52 Lakhs!
Overall, it’s good for the industry to finally receive some positive news after being under immense pressure since casinos were shut down in March.