At Captain of Port jetty in the heart of the state capital Panaji, which the evening hours to midnight has flurry of activity with high end and tourist cars plying patrons to the offshore casino’s, for the last couple of days dons a deserted look.
Casino operators say that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on Wednesday over the withdrawal of Rs. 500/Rs.1000 as a method to combat black-money, corruption, terror-financing and counterfeit notes – the operation of the betting houses have hit a dead-end. “All our businesses have closed-down. We have no money (in cash) to pay people and vice versa,” an owner one of the popular casinos on Mandovi river says.
According to the casino industry’s own estimates, nearly 95 percent of its patrons are domestic tourists mostly hailing from Maharastra, Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and parts of North India. Although online or ATM transactions are allowed, the casino operator adds that electronic transaction has severe limitations. “Say a person swipes debit/credit card for Rs. 10,000 and loses Rs. 2000. If he demands back Rs. 8000, we don’t have such cash. It discourages the patrons to play further. People are going back,” he says.
Insisting not to be quoted, as he feels that his statements may not be taken in right-spirit, another Casino owner points out “flaw: in the basic premise of the Central government’s scheme. “The entire excerise is based on the presumption that all cash is ‘blackmoney’ and all online transaction is ‘whitemoney’. This is untrue. We have ‘explained-money’ in the books for trading on day-to-day basis to run the business (employee salary and operational costs), but I am unable to do so,” he says.
While ruing that less than five percent of the patrons may have visited among the 11 operational onshore/offshore casinos in the last two days, the owners of the entertainment and leisure industry, that operates almost everyday, say that they will be waiting and watching for the next two to three days for the things to turn around for their business during the tourist season.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, while saying that the cash-crunch was felt across the country, and not only for the tourism sector in the state, assured that the local banks will receive sufficient funds by Saturday afternoon and things would subsequently normalise.