India is not one of the countries where gamblers can easily find casinos and enjoy their games. Only three states out of 29 legalized gambling activities – Goa, Sikkim, and Daman. Furthermore, casinos need to follow a strict set of rules and regulations for being able to provide their services. Every state mentioned above is entitled to regulate gambling activities on its territory. According to the Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976, only five-star hotels or offshore vessels can facilitate casinos.
Gambling, in general, is a big topic in India since it is heavily restricted. The ones who are against it claim that it can lead to corruption, crime, and money laundering. On the other hand, proponents of regulated gambling believe it can be a significant source of revenue for each state. While the regulation of land-based casinos is strict, online gambling is still in a gray area. It isn’t mentioned in the Act, which isn’t strange since it didn’t exist at the time the Act was set in place. It means that although online gambling in India is not entirely legal, it isn’t illegal as well. So, if you are looking for the best gambling sites in India you better check a piece of advice from experts in this field before diving in.
Who Can Use Casinos in Goa?
While only three casinos operate in Sikkim and one in Daman, Goa boasts a total of 16 land-based and offshore casinos. Goa is the gambling hotspot in India, although it is the smallest state in terms of population. Together with Sikkim, Goa makes up around 90% of legal gambling activities in the country. The secret behind being successful in the casino business is that Goa is a coastal state. Therefore, it can allow offshore vessel casinos besides the land-based ones. Besides that, its sunny beaches attract tourists all around the world. However, in the 90s, they faced a declining number of tourists since other destinations were more attractive for gamblers, such as Nepal. But, the government made small amendments to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act of 1976 that made gambling legal on the Goa soil and Goa waters.
As a side effect, millions of tourists all around the globe started visiting the state. Due to its small population of fewer than 2 million residents, one of the primary revenue sources is tourism. People that are using casinos are local and foreign tourists exclusively. Goa residents have been barred from casinos since February 2020. In fact, the locals mostly haven’t used casinos even before the ban, and just 1% of players were not tourists. Therefore, this decision didn’t have any impact on gambling revenues.
Does Gambling Generate Tax Revenues?
When speaking about the tax revenues from gambling activities, they are continually increasing in the past few years. According to the center-state financial relationship, the state government is collecting gambling taxes. Just in the 2018-19 financial year, the Goa government collected Rs 411 crore from offshore and land-based casinos. Casinos are at the highest level of tax brackets, with a rate of 28%. Also, licenses for both land-based and offshore casinos were increased in 2018, while the Goa government also set up an application fee of $32.000. All of these can bring substantial revenue, which can be very helpful for a quicker getaway from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Online Gambling in Goa and Sikkim
The same tax rate hits online casinos like all others. We mentioned earlier that online gambling falls under the obscure area, and it’s not adequately regulated. However, there are legitimate websites where locals can play online slots.
The Sikkim state tried to issue the licenses to online casino organizers, however, the central government intervened and banned these initiatives. Today, only Sikkim residents can access gambling sites licensed by the local government.
The same applies to the people of Goa. Although this state is a hotspot for offline gambling, it still doesn’t have clear law for online gambling. Online casinos are usually being used by the local Goa since the offline ones are reserved for tourists. Some of the best online gambling sites worldwide became popular among people in Goa as well. Despite the central government’s attempts to prohibit this way of gambling, local people are still making online bets on these sites.
The Future of Gambling in Goa
According to rumors from credible sources, the Goa government has plans to leverage the gambling industry to a new level. The blueprint for these plans in Macau, one of the most popular gambling destinations in the world. The mega-casino project is linked to the new airport project in Mopa, and it can create a $1 billion land-based casino market. However, the Covid-19 crisis had an impact on this project. We also believe that the online gambling market will get regulated, and it can bring even more benefits to the government’s budget.