The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has proposed that Maharashtra could boost tourism by introducing offshore casinos. The state has not yet come to a conclusion as to whether it will legalize casinos or not.
There are those that feel that if Maharashtra wishes to legalize casinos, but does not want to have its residents gambling, a floating casino would be a good solution. Only foreign tourists would be permitted to enter the offshore casino. This would give the state additional income without creating encountering potential gambling problems. The proposal does suggest, however, that Indians may also be allowed to gamble at the offshore site.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation proposal would have the Maharashtra government as the sole operators of the casinos for the initial opening period, and for at least a couple of years. After this period, the casinos could be put up for sale to private operators.
An anonymous official stated: “This would allow the government earn a huge amount of money, but also give a huge boost to tourism.”
The discussion regarding the legalization of casinos in Maharashtra has come up after it came to light that the Maharashtra Casinos (Control and Tax) Act, 1976 was on the books. The Act still needs to be notified with rules and guidelines drawn up. Last year, a petition was taken to the Bombay High Court regarding the delay in framing the rules for the Act. This should have been some time ago, and was simply not dealt with.
The Maharashtra government can choose to abandon the Act, however, this would need to be done officially via the legislative process. The state government can also make the decision to frame the policies, as would have been the next step some time ago, and begin following the Act as law.
While many are opposed to legalizing gambling in Maharashtra, others have noted that there is a large amount of illegal gambling taking place already. The state could be protecting players by regulating the industry, and earning revenue by licensing and taxing gambling establishments.