Panaji, June 5 (IANS) The Goa government has refused to give permission to Delta Corporation Limited (DCL) to start a new offshore casino in the Mandovi river here, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said Wednesday.
"About the highly debated and publicised Horseshoe Casino, please note that it is only a vessel. Permission for starting a casino is rejected," the chief minister said in a statement released on Facebook.
The chief minister sought to end weeks of speculation that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government had granted permission to the DCL-owned casino, the biggest offshore casino vessel in Goa, to start operations.
He said a vicious campaign was on to discredit him and his government over dealings with the casino lobby.
Built in Florida, the casino was towed into the Mandovi river some weeks back and triggered a political controversy. The opposition had claimed that the BJP was hand-in-glove with the casino lobby.
However, Parrikar has claimed that the number of functional casinos has actually gone down in his tenure.
"I am firm on my stand that no new licence will be issued by my government. The actual number of operating offshore casinos has come down to three," Parrikar said.
The chief minister added that one non-operational casino was in the process of being confiscated by the state tourism department because "it poses a threat to tourism in the state".
"What is surprising is that despite the clarification, which is already in the public domain through the media, some publicity seekers with vested interests have chosen to spread blatant lies with regards to the government's stand on the issue," he said.