The coastal state amended its gambling legislation in an attempt to address current
trends in offenders’ behaviour.
Tripled Fines Await First Time Violators
An Amendment to the Goa Public Gaming Act was adopted by the state’s Legislative
Assembly on July 30.
The texts of Sections 3, 4 and 11, dealing with the punishments for organizing gaming houses, for being found in such premises, and for gambling or arranging bird or animal fights in spaces with public access, were substituted with new
“The quantum of fine payable under the penal provisions of Sections 3, 4, and 11, is
meager needs enhancement. And on account of the same, the offenses punishable
under the said sections will be either imprisonment or fine or both,” said a note from
Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant’s cabinet circulated before the Legislative Assembly
Financial sanctions for first offences are now tripled from a minimum of ₹ 1,000 to no
less than three thousand rupees. All other fines are increased with amounts between ₹
1,500 and ₹ 2,500, and the maximum monetary penalty under these sections of the law
becomes ₹ 7,000 (previously five thousand rupees).
Up to now, the Goa Public Gambling Act provided for a custodial sentence varying
between ten days and three years for each offence together with the monetary
The updated version allows judicial bodies to decide whether to sentence perpetrators to imprisonment, or only apply a fine to them, or both.
The Goa Legislator has also used the opportunity to take care of the obsolete wordings
“Union Territory” and “Daman and Diu” while adopting the Goa Public Gambling
(Amendment) Bill (Bill No. 42 of 2021). The law initially came into existence in 1976 as
the Goa, Daman, and Diu Public Gambling Act (Act No. 14 of 1976) when Goa, Daman, and Diu formed a single Union territory.
Then Goa was granted the status of a separate state on May 30, 1987, and Daman and Diu remained a Union Territory.
Goa’s Casino Industry
The most notable previous amendments to the coastal state’s Gambling Act were made
in 1992 and in 1996. In the former year, licenses for casinos in luxurious five-star hotels
started being issued, and in the latter – table games with live dealers were legalized on
Currently, there are about a dozen land-based casinos and six offshore gambling
establishments on vessels operating on the Mandovi river, just outside the state capital
Major industry players include Delta Corp, the only listed Indian gambling
company and operator of the Deltin trademark, Pride Group fronted by Ashok Khetrapal,
and the Advani Group which operates in partnership with Casinos Austria.
According to Jaydev Mody, chairman of Delta Corp Ltd, around 20 per cent of casino
visitors is serious hard-core gamblers. The average player spends between $ 200 and
$ 300 and most popular are the Western blackjack and roulette games.
The growth of the industry is easily assessed when looking at the dynamics of the
sector’s contributions to the state government’s treasury. Official figures for the Fiscal
Year of 2012-2013 show that the state received a total revenue of ₹ 135.45 crore from
the sector in the form of taxes, entry fees, alcohol licenses and port charges from casino
Around that period, daily footfalls reached approximately 15,000 visitors per day with
peak daily net profits amounting to ₹ 4.5 crore. Around 70 per cent of gamblers at
floating casinos were tourists, while 80 per cent of visitors to South Goa onshore
casinos were Goa residents. Shares of tourists and locals in North Goa land-based
casinos were split 50-50.
For FY 2017-2018, the industry delivered ₹ 330 crore, and for the last full pre-pandemic
the financial year of 2018-2019 CM Dr. Pramod Sawant reported to the Goa Legislative
Assembly ₹ 414 crore of total revenues from the sector, which constitutes a 25.5 per
cent year-on-year (YoY) growth.
Illegal Gaming Still a Thing
Old-fashioned betting draws called Matka or Satta are strictly illegal in the whole
Subcontinent. Nevertheless, and despite all legal options to place a bet provided, a
2019 survey conducted by NGO Sangath and published in the Asian Journal of
Psychiatry established that one of every eight adult males in Goa plays Matka regularly
– ranging from at least once per month to up to three times every week.
The study’s goal was to determine the prevalence, patterns and correlates of gambling
in the coastal state. Participants were 1514 male residents of Goa who filled in a
Virtually half (724 people or 49.9 per cent) of the respondents admitted to having tried
gambling at least once in their lifetime. The majority of them – 658 participants or 45.4
per cent – said they do it currently – within the course of the past year.
The most common form of gambling was the lottery with 446 participants or 67.8 per
cent of all current gamblers. Out of them, 344 men or 52.3 per cent admitted to having
played illegal Matka at least once in the last twelve months.
New Trends in Illegal Gambling
A recent police search and arrest action on the Gandhi market, Margao, revealed that
Matka bookies have been adapting their business to post-Covid reality by setting up
online gambling dens in violation of the now amended Sections 3 and 4 of the Goa
Public Gambling Act.
A patrol unit led by South Goa Sp Pankaj Kumar Singh arrested 11 people, including
Rajesh Babal Naik who was charged with operating the online game of chance roulette.
The police also seized cash to the amount of ₹ 80,000 and 11 computer configurations
and supporting hardware to the total value of ₹ 310,000.
Playing by oneself online blackjack for real money which is a game of skill, or online real
money roulette which is a game of chance, does not violate the law, because Goa’s
legislation does not treat online gambling. On the other hand, organizing unlicensed
gambling dens for these online games, or being found playing them in such a ‘gaming
house’, is a clear breach of the law.