The tourism minister appeared confused initially, but he didn't quite dismiss the idea.

 When a news report gave a Karnataka minister the idea to open casinosImage for representation/ Pixabay
news Thursday, November 26, 2015 - 19:13

Gambling aficionados in Karnataka could soon have a casino to look forward to, in the state, if things go according to plan. 

On Wednesday, The Times of India reported that Karnataka could be the third state in India, after Goa, and Sikkim, to get a casino. The union territory of Daman and Diu too has casinos.

According to the report, inspired from Goa's four floating casinos, the Karnataka government plans to introduce floating casinos along the state's coastline in a bid to boost tourism. 

Asked whether the tourism department was planning to set up casinos, tourism minister R V Deshpande appeared confused. But he didn't quite dismiss the idea. 

RV Deshpande told The News Minute, “It’s not a bad idea.” However, he clarified that there was no discussion in the department regarding the introduction of casinos. 

"As far as boosting of tourism is concerned, the department is doing whatever it can. But we are now focusing more on last mile connectivity in tourist destinations. The department is focusing on providing security for tourist places and tourists. We are working on keeping the destinations clean which is key for corporates to adopt tourist destinations,” said Deshpande.

"The decision on casinos is purely a political decision, no such decision was taken by the government or the tourism department. Such decisions cannot be taken by an individual without putting conscious thought into it. We have to take public opinion too. However, there is no doubt that it might boost tourism in the state," he said.

In October, speaking to The News Minute about flights from Bengaluru to Mysuru, Deshpande said that despite Mysuru being nestled between two national parks, tourists fly to Goa and this was mainly because of lack of connectivity. 

While the state Principal Secretary (Tourism), Pradeep Singh Kharola told TOI they were only toying with the idea, sources reportedly told the newspaper that Karnataka is looking at six ports including Karwar, Belekeri, Tadri, Malpe, Old and New Mangaluru ports and would discuss in the state investors meet in 2016. 

Karnataka would not be the only state to have thought of introducing the casinos.

There were reports in 2014 that Goa casino owners were placing their bets on Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

States like Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Meghalaya have also ruminated on the idea but most of the proposals were shelved due to socio-political reasons.

Maharashtra, which had passed a legislation to permit casinos way back in 1976 under Congress Chief Minister Shankarrao Chavan, has still not implemented it. The Bombay High Court has given the BJP-led government time till March 2016 to decide on the implementation.

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