Govt has allowed foreign vessel to operate casino - Tuesday 3rd of March 2009

A letter from former chief secretary J P Singh to leader of opposition Manohar Parrikar has revealed that the government had permitted a

foreign vessel to operate a floating casino in Goa without permission from the director general of shipping.

In the letter dated February 25, Singh admitted, "Meanwhile, it is also been verbally intimated by Highstreet Cruises and Entertainment Pvt Ltd that they have initiated the process of de-registering the vessel MV Casino Royale from the Port of Moroni, Union of Comores, to enable it to get the Indian flag from the director general of shipping, Ministry of shipping, road transport and highways in due course of time."

Reacting to Singhs admission, Parrikar at a press conference on Saturday stated, "This proves that all rules and regulations under the Goa Public Gambling Act have been violated. The Act necessitates that the vessel has to be given a casino table games on-board licence only if it is registered in India and possesses a licence issued by the DGS. But in this case, the casino vessel is a foreign ship carrying a Comores flag."

"If the ship is not an Indian vessel, the state government has no business to issue it a gambling licence. The ruling cabinet members and top bureaucrats have received crores of rupees as bribes to issue licences to six off shore casinos by flouting the law," he alleged.

Parrikar also said that a temporary no objection certificate (NOC) issued to the MV Casino Royale by the ports department to dock in the Mandovi river has also expired. "The temporary two month NOC issued to the Casino Royale expired on February 18 and they dont have permission from DGS and yet the government has granted offshore casino licence to such a vessel," he stated. At the moment, Casino Royale just has a trade license issued by DGS which is valid upto March 14.

Demanding a probe by the department of revenue intelligence into the loss of revenue to the state due to the premature release of MV Casino Royale on the alleged instructions of the chief ministers office as well as the chief secretary, he said that if the government doesnt get its act together and remove "illegal" casinos, then he will be forced to file a criminal complaint.

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