Now horse racing to be promoted in Goa

Panaji, Aug 11 (IANS) After gaining reputation as the casino capital of India, Goa is now ‘taking bets’ on becoming a horse racing destination, according to a top tourism official.

Goa’s tourism secretary M.M. Modassir told reporters at a press conference Wednesday that the addition of horse racing to Goa’s tourism portfolio in the near future would help diversify the state’s appeal.

‘We need to develop various options for making Goa a wholesome tourism product. Tomorrow we may like to start horse races or golf or horse polo. That will be diversification of the tourism product,’ he said.

The official said setting up casinos in Goa was a part of the state government’s strategy to tap wealthy tourists coming to Goa.

‘Casinos are one of the strategies to invite a little wealthier group of tourists and diversification of portfolio. A man who has seen the world, has money to spend… what will he do when he comes here. He will may be go to a casino. It is one of the options,’ Modassir said.

Several more options, other than beach tourism, needed to be developed for the two million odd tourists who came to Goa annually, he added.

There are presently more than a dozen land-based casinos in the various five star hotels spread across Goa, in addition to the seven offshore casinos licensed to operate off the coast of the tourist state.

Allotment of licence to casinos has been a subject of controversy, especially with allegations of large-scale corruption levelled by the opposition on Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Home Minister Ravi Naik.

The casino industry has also been the subject of several protests by civil society groups and Church-backed social organisations who have demanded their closure because the trade corrupts the societal fibre.

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