Andhra Pradesh government is mulling the feasibility of floating casinos off the Visakhapatnam coast to generate additional resources, a media report on Monday, October 5, stated. The state is facing a worrying decline in revenue collection amid an unforeseeable delay in funds transfer by the Centre due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Having outstanding liabilities of Rs 3.2 lakh crore, Andhra Pradesh is exploring various options to overcome the revenue shortfall.
According to Mint, the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government is planning to revive the tourism sector by setting up Goa-like offshore casinos and has even reached out to the Centre with its proposal.
"Offshore casinos are being explored for some time now. Andhra Pradesh needs revenue and has a huge coastline that can be leveraged for promoting tourism," a government official was quoted as saying by the news daily.
Andhra Pradesh has a 975-kilometre long coastline along the Bay of Bengal and India's territorial waters extend up to 12 nautical miles from the coast.
The state tourism department in a statement has debunked the claims that it is exploring the feasibility of floating casinos within Indian territorial waters off the Visakhapatnam coast to raise resources.
Minister for Tourism M Srinivasa Rao has made it clear the Andhra Pradesh government would not encourage gambling activities such as floating casinos and others at any cost. He asserted that the state will come up with other ways to boost revenue generation. The state's travel sector has incurred a loss of over Rs 2,000 crore in the wake of COVID-19.
Furthermore, a senior officer of the state tourism department said that Andhra Pradesh will be focussing on promoting rural tourism. "The domestic and the foreign tourists love to visit the beaches surrounded by the green hills. The tourism department has not proposed floating casinos. Instead, it will promote rural tourism in the state," he said.
Besides, the state government has already banned online games including Rummy and Poker as they push youngsters into gambling.
Therefore, it can be concluded that no floating casinos will be coming up in Andhra Pradesh.