Goa Casino COVID Curbs Lifted As India State Reopens Tourism

Deeming The COVID-19 Pandemic Situation Under Control, The Goa Government Has Unlocked The State To Restart Tourism Activities Just In Time For The Peak Tourist Season. 

Goa Casinos Now Open To Tourists — But at 50% Capacity

State officials rolled out fresh guidelines, allowing key tourism activities to resume in Goa—including land-based casino establishments and river casinos—effective September 20. According to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, casinos in Goa can now accept tourists and locals inside the establishments as long as they are “either fully vaccinated or those with a RTPCR report.”

Goa casinos are also allowed to operate up to 50 percent of their capacity, and they must implement COVID safety protocols including use of masks, sanitisers, and thermal screening, among others. Guests and staff must be asymptomatic or fully vaccinated against coronavirus, making sure that 15 days have elapsed from the administration of the second dose of the vaccine. Negative RT-PCR test results are also accepted, provided that the tests are conducted not prior to 72 hours from the time of entry to the casino.

“The (state government’s) expert committee compared the (COVID-19) positivity rate over the last two-three weeks and it has been under 2 percent. In order to revive economic activity and tourism activity, casinos have been allowed to reopen on Monday [September 20] with strict SOPs (standard operating procedures),” Sawant said.

Goa Reopens in Time For Peak Tourist Season

The reopening of the state is seen by industry stakeholders as a catalyst for many operators in Goa—hotels, restaurants, and even taxi services—to see their businesses pick up, especially when the peak tourist season sets in in October and lasts until March. The state is host to six floating casinos on Mandovi river, plus one off in state capital Panaji, and about a dozen others operating inside hotels in the state.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, state officials have been actively promoting casino tourism in Goa as part of their bid to boost economic growth by expanding the state’s casino offerings to potentially attract tourists who otherwise might not consider visiting Goa. In their report, Overview of Goa’s casino communities, analysts at ENV Media highlighted that the state’s “expanding casino industry reached around 15,000 visitors per day by the end of the 2010s, still maintaining an annual growth rate of around 30%.”

The pandemic, however, has demonstrated a shift among many Indian consumers toward technology. Now more than ever, more and more consumers are turning to digital environments as they go about their day. They include desi players, who are now also opting to go digital as they play online roulette on mobile, and even lottery as well as other casual entertainment games in the comfort and safety of their homes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic may have given the decisive push in many industries. While tourism stands to improve in Goa, its gambling fame might just be brought onto a new level with online gambling,” according to the ENV Media report. “Goa might push for more online gamers and next-gen revenue streams instead of pushing for rich tourists and trying to discriminate against locals or humble desi gamblers.”