Goa’s Casinos Can Reopen at Half Capacity in India, COVID Safeguards Required

Gaming venues in Goa, one of India’s major travel destinations, were allowed to reopen on Monday. They were shuttered for several months due to risk from the nation’s second major wave of COVID-19.

Casinos are considered important for Goa’s tourism sector
Casinos are considered important for Goa’s tourism sector
The Majestic Pride Casino, pictured above. The floating casino reopened after Goa, India permitted gaming venues to operate at 50 percent capacity as long as they adhere to COVID safeguards. (Image: Majestic Pride Group)

For now, casino capacity is capped at 50 percent. The casinos must also follow a variety of health safeguards. These include social distancing, wearing of masks, and checking of temperatures.

Those who enter casinos must be asymptomatic, and fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Indian Express, a national newspaper.

Also, 15 days must have passed since someone received the second dose of vaccine. Or, they must show negative RT-PCR COVID test results.

The reopening comes after promising data on the number of COVID cases were seen by an expert committee in Goa. As of Saturday, Goa saw 771 active COVID cases. Two people died, the Indian Express said.

“The (state government’s) expert committee compared the … positivity rate over the last two-three weeks and it has been under 2 percent,” Goa’s Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said over the weekend.

In order to revive economic activity and tourism activity, casinos have been allowed to reopen on Monday with strict … standard operating procedures,” Sawant added.

Much of India was hit hard with the Delta variant of COVID-19. In many locations, there were shortages of hospital space for those suffering from COVID-19 and many residents died from the virus.

Peak Tourism Season Starts Next Month

The reopening also comes in time for Goa’s major tourist season. It typically runs from October to March, the Indian Express said.

Casinos are considered important for Goa’s tourism sector. They also employ thousands of workers.

Goa has six casinos on boats in the Mandovi River. There are also others located in hotels, the Indian Express said.

Gaming, Hotel Sectors Hurt by Closures

“It has been a very hard time,” Shrinivas Nayak, director of the Majestic Pride Group, which operates the Majestic Pride Casino, told the Indian Express about the shuttering.

In the first lockdown, we were shut for about seven months. This time, it was for about four months and 20 days,” he added.

“We had no revenue but we still had to bear 70-80 percent of our expenses. The lockdown was uncertain and it kept extending week by week.”

Also, Nilesh Shah, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said that “with casinos reopening, almost 14,000 people working in the industry will get a boost. In addition, the hotel industry in Panaji and in North Goa will also get a boost.”

Currently, occupancy is about 20-30 percent, he adds.

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