Playwin puts its money on Goa casino

Macau/New DelhiI: Goa will soon have a new addition to its list of attractions. And it could be no bigger than a casino spread over 20,000 sq ft, thanks to the Rs 3,400-crore Playwin, the country’s largest online lottery company and gaming brand of Pan India Infravest. The company believes that this offshore casino will be by far the biggest casino operation in the state.

The venture will not only target Indian consumers who go to casinos in Nepal, Macau and Thailand, but will also attract tourists who come to India. At the same time, the biggest casino player of Macau, Venetian Macau, plans to foray into India. According to sources, by 2009, international casino operators will make their presence felt in India through joint ventures or the franchisee route, regulation notwithstanding.

According to industry estimates, the organised gambling industry in India is worth Rs 25,000 crore. At the same time, there is an equally big illegal gambling industry. Lotteries contribute immensely to the state exchequer in India. But it does tend to get a bit tricky when high betting taxes result in people resorting to illegal betting. “The other deterrent is the state discretion to ban lotteries depending on which political party is in power,” remarks Playwin director & CEO Amar Sinha of.

That, perhaps, explains why Mr Sinha is so keen on the high seas for the roll of the dice — no taxes, no governments, no hassles. And those Macau-bound high net worth Indians, too, can be pouched much closer homes with all the pizzazz thrown in.

Globally, casinos have added value to the overall entertainment experience provided by hotels and resorts. In fact, ET learns that Punjab, Sikkim and Puducherry are already in talks for allowing casinos in collaboration with the hospitality sector. Goa, too, has issued a few licences to promote offshore casinos. “Every state government should understand the fact that casinos will immensely contribute to the exchequer and the funds can be utilised for social as well as infrastructure projects,” opines Mr Sinha.

As for Venetian Macau, the hotel-cum-resort casino chain is already planning a strategy to enter the India market. The Venetian is well established in Macau with 3,000 suites, 850 gambling tables and 4,100 slot machines. For the record, Macau is the gambling den of the world, having overtaken Las Vegas last year in terms of casino revenue generation. The city has around 11,510 slot machines and 3,992 gaming tables.