Goa’s casinos get reprieve as AAP sinks in elections

Casinos in the state of Goa may gain a reprieve after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had vowed to close the properties, unexpectedly failed to garner any support.

The party won zero seats in the state, one of only two in India where casino gambling is allowed. It also failed to take the state of Punjab as had been expected.

“We are disappointed with the results. We will introspect on the reasons behind the (poor) performance,” senior AAP leader Ashutosh was cited as saying in local media.

The AAP bagged 20 seats in Punjab, a state which gave it four MPs in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but the party lost all seats in Goa with its chief ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes coming fourth from Cuncolim.

Instead, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 13 seats while its rival Congress won 17 seats. The remaining 10 seats were won by independents and regional parties.

As part of its manifesto, AAP had promised casino-free tourism, eradication of drugs and prostitution. While both main parties the BJP and the Congress have made statements about closing casinos while they have been in opposition in the state, they have failed to follow through once in power. It had been feared that the populist AAP may have taken a harder line.

BJP was the only major party in Goa that did not take a hardline anti-casino stance during election campaigning.

The Congress party in its election manifesto however stated that it would like to shut down casinos.

It is likely that the renewal of offshore casino licenses is likely to be one of the first policy decisions of the new cabinet.