Casino In Goa
Casino In Goa – Within the casinos of Goa, there is a mixture of optimism and signs of revival after the pandemic Things are looking up for the casino gaming industry; at Delta Corp., the only listed company that runs casinos in Goa, net sales rose 15 percent and operating profit grew 27 percent in the April-June quarter.
Delta Corp., a company listed in Goa, owns several offshore casinos, including Deltin Royale, Deltin Jaqk and Deltin Caravela, also known as King Casino. (Image courtesy of Delta Corp.)
Casino In Goa
On a ferry, after 10pm, the mood is dark, almost ominous, as the vehicle heads towards one of the many vessels anchored in the Mandovi river, outside the port of Panjim. There is a lot of light on the beach, from brightly lit ships, shiny billboards, reflected from the surface of the river which is kinetic in the monsoon. But the mood inside is darker than you imagine most people are out to spend money, play games and enjoy a pre-paid buffet.
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“I often make a trip to one of these,” says a young or middle-aged man in a check shirt, who is part of a group of other people of the same age, who does not want to be named. “My family knows, but I prefer not to answer too many questions at home.”
The Belgaum resident is one of the thousands of tourists who flock to one of the six offshore casinos in Goa that are open 24×7, offering a range of entertainment and jobs, encouraging tourism in the state and inviting the residents are often startled.
The post-pandemic world of casinos is returning to a semblance of normality, after most of them were closed from March to November 2020 and then again from late April to mid-September 2021 – more than 12- the month of business inactivity with almost no vacation otherwise.
“Staff retention has been one challenge,” says Shrinivas Nayak, director of the Majestic Pride Group which owns an offshore casino. “We (casinos) are the last priority because we come under entertainment (business). We were the last to start our business. The pity is that when the income stopped, the expenses continued.”
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It’s hard to find the numbers, since most casinos are protected by word figures—most are protected by speech. But the only listed company involved in the casino gaming industry in India, Delta Corp, has seen its net sales decline from nearly Rs 800 crore in 2018-19 to Rs418 crore in 2020-21. Its operating profit in this period fell from Rs 320 crore to just under Rs 22 crore, leaving behind the scars that the pandemic left on the industry. The company has several offshore casinos in Goa, including Deltin Royale, Deltin Jaqk and Deltin Caravela, also known as King Casino.
However, things are looking up for Delta this financial year. In the April-June quarter, its net sales increased by 15 percent and operating profit by 27 percent, driven by an increase in tourists visiting the casinos and an improvement in the occupancy of the room.
Riding-riding back in the general stock market, the scrip of Delta Corp. has gained almost 15 percent in the past month. These numbers led the company to finance a new ship of similar capacity to the three existing casinos in Goa and indicate that the gaming industry can be a winning bet for a long-term investor.
Tejwant Singh, who performs various roles for Casino Pride, including managing marketing, entertainment and the phone collection listed on their website, tells a story he heard from one of their first-time visitors this year: “He said that my father earned. so much, he kept saving, he used to stop us from spending and then he died of Covid last year. He earned all his life but he didn’t like it, he never traveled. X ‘got it? He went without enjoying the one life he had.”
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He narrates this incident as a means of explaining that while the passage may not be as high as the days before Covid, visitors are spending more. “Risk appetite has increased. People are afraid if there is another lockdown…” he trails off, thickly
On Friday night, when the rain stops for a while, the road to Panjim and the casino piers are bustling with Toyota Qualis – lots of beady-eyed men. A couple on rented scooters argue from the sidelines, the dying mehendi and bangles of their recently changed marital status and how gambling can be the first salvo in a back split the honeymoon. Groups of young families drag their babies and toddlers along, a mixture of sleep and excitement creating imperceptible expressions on their faces. Women on high heels are made to precariously cross the sticky road as the local municipality decides to stop it at that very moment. Touts hang around, handing out coupons and encouragement.
The pandemic has encouraged casinos to innovate and adapt to the modern world. Social media and Instagram now play a significant role in communication. Large boards continue to be covered in strategic places, such as on the road to the city from the airport, but they seem to be of limited value, 4-5 seconds of blurred vision.
Singh talks about the need to innovate on a daily basis, explaining that “in a democratic country what people want, they can get it”. Targeting today’s millennial crowd is a task, says the recent immigrant from Ludhiana who says he is in his 20s. “We need to keep our social media up to date, the Google page needs to be monitored, Instagram needs immediate responses. Until 3-4 years ago, we didn’t pay any attention to these,” says Singh, who started working with Casino Pride during the first lockdown.
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“We are targeting this part of society, young people, people between 23 and 25 years old. Unmarried, young. Because my college friends, school friends – all the connections are through social media.”
Typical newbies spend a few hours on their first visit to the casino, but experienced card players can spend days inside without realizing it. (Representative image: Keenan Constance via Unsplash)
From a distance, Casino Pride looks like a scene from Ozark, an OTT show where a dysfunctional family runs a casino in Missouri, USA. The 20-odd people from the ferry scramble out onto the ground floor of Casino Pride, making it look as packed as Mumbai’s local railway station for a few minutes before dispersing to other levels of the nest with many floors.
Games like Roulette, Black Jack, Baccarat, Flush, Casino War are fighting with new ones like Dragon Tiger, Double Dice to the tunes of Amar Akbar Anthony, Chhote Miyan Bade Miyan and Andar Bahar. The latter, according to Singh, most popular among men from Karnataka, is a simple card game that does not require much strategy.
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Kannada and Telugu are the most frequently heard languages in casinos, reflecting the original audience centers. There are game rooms, buffet spread on the second floor in front of live dance performance to Kannada or Telugu songs. In a children’s room further on, behind the dance stage, it is the duty of some adults to entertain the children after 11 at night.
At the Deltin Royale, on a weeknight, the atmosphere is more relaxed. The crowd is kinder, warmer, and seems less stressed. There are enough tables for everyone, more room to move, less competitors to win. A group of nine to ten middle-aged women, dressed for a night out, park themselves at a Black Jack table while one of them tearfully argues on the phone with a seemingly erratic boy.
Casino managers say that newcomers – and there are many of them – ask rather cliched questions. Can I walk in shorts and slippers (mainly)? Do you accept cash (yes, and credit card, GPay, etc.)? Is it safe? How do I take the ship and will it go (no)? Typical newbies spend a few hours in the evening on their first visit to the casino, seasoned card players can spend days inside without realizing it.
Most casino youngsters are not interested in spending more than thousands, I believe they have finally hit home and expect to find men in tuxedos nursing shaken martinis. “They have this in mind that everything will be set up in a casino. As shown in the movies, we are all in this together. But ask me how many people won,” Singh said with a laugh.
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For a long time now, local citizens and NGOs have been trying to move the casinos from their current Mandovi location. Frequently, licensing issues arise—to be allowed or not. The Central Government recently introduced a proposal to impose 28 percent GST on casinos and the state government plans to notify new regulations for casino operators, including empowering a gaming commissioner.
“In case you leave Mandovi,” says Nayak, “the issue has been going on for 16 years. The myth is that we cannot walk. But what is important is the safety of the people, the ease of doing business, the access to the facilities. These are challenges for every government.”
“So far, no resentment, no move. Those things died. i have
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