Goa IR Precinct Plan Stalled As Delta Talks Up Casino In 2027

November 1, 2022
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The Indian state of Goa is stalling on developing an integrated resort (IR) precinct near a future international airport, leading casino operator Delta Corp to confirm its future IR casino will be electronic and operate in tandem with riverboat casinos.

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The Indian state of Goa is stalling on developing an integrated resort (IR) precinct near a future international airport, leading casino operator Delta Corp to confirm its future IR casino will be electronic and operate in tandem with riverboat casinos.

The Goan government’s notorious, decade-long delay in relocating riverboat casinos onshore seems unlikely to end in the foreseeable future, following final approval for a Delta IR project featuring only electronic gaming machines (EGMs).

Delta CFO Hardik Dhebar told an earnings conference call on October 12 that the state government issued final approval “about a month ago” for its IR proposal near the under-construction Goa International Airport at Mopa, on the border of Maharashtra state.

Construction of the IR is expected to take four years and will begin in January, after the monsoon, Dhebar said, followed by at least three years of operations before “the first revenues … start kicking in”.

The wider area has also been earmarked as an investment promotion area, he said.

However, Dhebar said government plans for an IR precinct near the new airport, consisting in part of relocated riverboat casinos, are “on hold”.

“That policy, while … announced, has not been furthered and taken shape,” he said.

“If that was to happen and that ever happens, you will obviously have others who will have to build it on land and give up the licences on the river.

“But … that's not happening as of now, as it appears.”

Instead, Delta’s IR will include an EGM casino under prevailing regulations on its initially 90 acre (36.5 hectare) property.

For a “five-star hotel, you can have an electronic casino. So we are going to have an electronic casino of about 100,000, 150,000 square feet [9,300 to 13,900 square metres] to begin with in this integrated resort project, while our [casino] ships will continue to operate,” Dhebar said.

The Goan government announced a migration of all River Mandovi casino operations to Mopa in early 2018, with the then-public works minister declaring a “separate entertainment area” near the airport had been designated for their relocation.

By 2020, however, when Delta’s IR received in-principle approval from the government, management had used “electronic casino” among the proposed attractions, hinting at a loss of government support for a land-based cluster of casinos with table games.

Goa’s unique gaming environment restricts table games to riverboats, while allowing five-star hotels and riverboats to operate EGMs.

Meanwhile, Delta said it will introduce a new, larger casino riverboat to replace the smallest of its gaming fleet, with a delivery date of between October and December 2023.

Delta also announced record quarterly revenue of 1.6bn rupees ($19m) for the three months ending September 30, citing a rebound from coronavirus pandemic woes in the domestic travel and tourism industry and buoyant consumer spending.

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