India’s largest and only publicly traded gaming and hospitality company the Delta corp has finally gotten Sikkim’s elusive nod to expand into the state.
Two state ministers, tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Ugen Gyatso and Public Works, Culture and Heritage Minister GM Gurung, will be present for the casino launch, according to the invitation.
The announcement came almost six months after Delta Corp. secured a provisional license to operate a casino in Gangtok.
The hospitality company announced in April that it has partnered with Hotel Welcome Heritage Denzong Regency for the Sikkim venture. Under the partnership, the hotel will lease the gaming space to Delta Corp., which, in turn, will be “responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the new casino.” Three months later, Delta Corp. received Sikkim’s elusive approval to expand into the state.
Delta Corp. was initially eyeing to have the refurbishments completed in three months so that the premises will be “casino ready” before 2016 ends, and had planned to offer about 150 gaming positions in its new gambling establishment.
Delta Corp’s new casino will join Sikkim’s two other existing casinos—Casino Mahjong in the Mayfair resort and Casino Sikkim in Hotel Royal Plaza.
Located in northeest India, the state of Sikkim is one of the three areas that allow live casinos to operate within its borders. The other two are Goa and Daman. Sikkim’s casinos, launched in 2009, had already caused a surge in tourism with an estimated 12,000 tourists visiting the state per year.
Aside from the Gangtok casino, Delta Corp also operates three offshore and one onshore casino in Goa. The company announced in June that the government of Goa has authorized its wholly owned subsidiary Delta Pleasure Cruise Company to operate MV Royale Flotel – Deltin Caravela on Mandovi River.
The setting up of casinos wherein bring about tourist attraction also somewhere or the other bears a negative social impact as the bulk of the patrons in the two operational casinos in Sikkim is comprised of locals, and emerging (but undocumented) trends indicate that Sikkim’s social fabric is under considerable stress.
Local entrepreneurs, youth, businessmen, and bureaucrats are reported to have invested money in the casino, often ending up with huge accumulated debt burdens. This has had a trickle-down effect in the close-knit society of this small state.
Casinos have reportedly been providing direct and indirect employment to many people, in Sikkim most of the employees are from outside the state, and there are reports of women employees of the casinos being involved in immoral acts beyond their duty hour, there have been several police raids across Gangtok town and many girls who were rounded up with their clients in alleged flesh trade cases admitted to being connected with the casinos.
Often stray tourists visiting Gangtok pick up partners from the casinos. In Syari area, close to Gangtok town, where the Royal Plaza Hotel and Casino Sikkim are located, a casual stroll during late evening or night confirms these contentions. In fact, Casino Sikkim had been shut down for a month by the administration on charges of selling liquor on a dry day, coupled with allegations of promoting immoral acts in its premises.
There was only one case registered in the state under the Public Gambling Act (1867) in 2010, under a non-Indian Penal Code Section, as per CID Police records. However, under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956, there was one registered case in 2009, three in 2010, and again one in 2011. Police records indicate that in April 2013, there was a sharp increase in cases registered under both IPC and Non-IPC sections.
As they say there is always a boon and a bane to every phenomena and this issue also bears few of positive and negative features.
TNT News with inputs from internet sources
Image: Representational image used from internet sources