Daman bets big on casino

Surat: Think casinos and Las Vegas beckons. Back home, Goa is as far as a Gujarati gambler can get.

But, gaming by the Arabian Sea in Daman could bring the dice closer with leading US-based gaming, entertainment and hospitality chain Thunderbird Resorts and Daman Hospitality Pvt Ltd (DHPL) joining hands to set up a Rs 375-crore resort with a casino as its centre-piece.

Currently, Goa is the only home to India’s legalised casinos. A Nasscom study says country’s gaming industry is poised to grow to about Rs 1,800 crore by March 2009 from the present Rs 21 crore.

„It will be the first casino in this region. Daman has potential and we plan to target tourists from Gujarat and neighbouring states like Maharashtra. The resort and casino operations will commence by September next year,“ said Ketan Patel, chairman of DHPL. Son of Dahyabhai Patel, Congress MP from Daman, Patel is the president of Congress’s Daman unit.

Fiesta Casino, as it will be known, will come up over 52,000 square feet area equipped with 500 electronic slot machines like Poker, Blackjet and Roulette. The casino will be leased out to an Indian company holding a gaming license under Gambling Act of Goa, Daman and Diu, 1976.

„There is an increased effort in promoting casinos among the domestic audience. Indians, especially Gujaratis, have high disposable income and are considered high-spenders. The project will change the face of Daman,“ he said.

The 200-room luxury resort will come up over 10 acres sea-facing land. As a part of the 50:50 JV, Thunderbird’s subsidiary, Impacto, will design and execute the facility.