Goa to get Indias 2nd floating casino

Mumbai, May 22 | Updated: May 23 2006, 05:30am hrs
Hospitality major Hotel Leelaventure Ltd is launchingIndia's second floating casino inGoa.Current government guidelinesdo not allow casinoson land. Hence, the idea for a casino at sea.

The Caravela in Goa is the only shipboardcasino in India right now. It is being managed by a leading player in the global casino industry, Casinos Austria International (CAI).

Its on board 'Goa Casino' is operated by the Advani Pleasure Cruise Company Ltd, a joint venture between Advani Hotels and Resorts India (AHRIL) and CAI. Leelaventure'sRs 16-17 crore casino is expected to be operational by August this year on acatamaran acquired by the company.

"The boat will be stationary at a particular area on the water and at the required distance from the shore as per the rules laid down by law," Hotel Leelaventure vice chairman and MD Vivek Nair told FE.

The company is in the process of evaluating various international casino operators who have a presence in Nepal, Europe and US. The company will select one operatorto manage and run the casino. Hotel Leelaventure will have to pay the Goa government a one-time deposit and an annual license fee in order to keep the casino running.

While 'The Caravela' is an entertainment destination, complete with specialty restaurants and a swimming pool, drawing in about 35,000 tourists every year, Hotel Leelaventure's floating casino is largely meant for its up-market clientele and will also feature a restaurant apart from the casino room.

"As much as 50% of The Caravela's35,000 tourists who come on board are dedicated casino-goers," Harish Advani of AHRIL told FE. "During the off-season, we get a lot of Indian tourists but during the peak season, it's a healthy mix of Indians and foreigners," he added.