Friday, May 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Haryana may have casinos
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
The Haryana Government is seriously considering promoting casinos in the state to attract foreign and domestic tourists.

Talking to TNS, Dr Harbakhsh Singh, Commissioner of the Tourism Department, said the issue of setting up casinos was also discussed with the Union Tourism Minister, Mr Ananth Kumar, yesterday during his trip to Panchkula and the Morni Hills area.

The Tourism Commissioner said the Union Minister responded positively when Haryana Government officials sounded him on setting up casinos. “The Union Minister appreciated our innovative idea of attracting tourists to Haryana and earning precious revenue for the exchequer”, Dr Harbakhsh Singh said.

The Tourism Commissioner said he was aware that the move to set up one or more casinos might attract political protests as well as outrage by moralists. He said the state government would take preventive steps to allay apprehensions usually related to the casino business, and use the establishment for employment generation and enhancing the revenue earnings of the state.

Quoting from a paper prepared by Mr Atam Uppal, an expert associated with the A2Z Gaming and Hospitality Inc. of the USA, Dr Harbakhsh Singh said that casinos were highly customer service oriented and labour intensive. “A typical casino in Las Vegas may have as many as 10,000 direct employees. The casinos in New Jersey employ 46,000 persons and spend $ 1,971 million on goods and services got from more than 10,000 other business enterprises, which obviously leads to a much larger number of jobs”, he said quoting from Mr Uppal’s paper, “Unexplored gaming opportunities in India”, which was presented last June at the 11th International Conference on Gambling and Risk Taking held at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.

The Tourism Commissioner said the setting up of casinos in Haryana would prevent the exodus of Indians to other countries for gambling. He said according to a report published in The Washington Post sometime ago, 95 per cent of the approximately $ 75 million gaming revenue of Nepal was from Indian clients. According to another report, Indians also visited casinos in the UK and one major club reportedly earned $ 12 million annually from Indian clients.

Dr Harbakhsh Singh said while slot machines had already been introduced in Goa, the Madhya Pradesh Government had also expressed its keenness to set up casinos at tourist destinations in that state so that tourists stayed there for a longer time. In India there was a tradition of gambling during Divali while gambling in various forms was carried out illegally by operators throughout the year, he said. The setting up of casinos would reduce illegal gambling.

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