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India's first live casino in Gangtok

Last updated on: June 7, 2011 13:34 IST

India's first live casino in Gangtok

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All casino aficionados in India who rued the lack of one in the country and had to travel to destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau or Kathmandu for the thrill of 'live gaming' now have a reason to cheer.

A full-fledged on-shore casino, the first of its kind in India, is coming up at Mayfair-Gangtok -- a five-star deluxe property spread over 48 acres and owned by Orissa-based Mayfair Hotels & Resorts.

The company is going for a soft launch of the casino in Gangtok on Wednesday, something the hotel chain's founder chairman, Dilip Ray, calls a 'dream come true'.

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"We have got the licence to operate the first full-scale, regular and live casino in the country at our Gangtok property.

"On June 8, we are doing a soft opening of the casino while the grand opening is slated for June 24," said Ray.

Unlike electronic gambling gadgets where there are no supervisors or gambling tables, the casino will have an almost entire gamut of live games -- roulette, black jack, baccarat, kitty, mini flush and poker. Players will be charged Rs 500 as entry fee.

There will be 150 dealers at the casino.

Food, drinks and entertainment will be offered as complementaries to participants.

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"The games will be played at the gaming table and 150 dealers (casino staff) will be there to assist the gamblers.

"In order to avoid fraudulent practices, close-circuit TV cameras have been installed and dealers will be changed every twenty minutes," Ray added.

Initially, the casino at Mayfair-Gangtok will operate from the hotel's conference hall, with a built-up area of around 1,000 sq ft.

Later it will move to a 30,000 sq ft reserved space within the premises.

The casino will occupy three to four floors and will operate from 4 pm to 6 am. Ray also plans to put up a shopping arcade at the casino within one year's of its launch.

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Image: A casino.
Photographs: Reuters
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He is betting big on the casino business and expects Gangtok to be one of the sought-after casino hubs in the world once the city gets its airport.

"There are a lot of players in the country and there is a great deal of potential. The poker game is really catching up.

"A lot of Indians from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some from Kolkata visit Kathmandu for the live gaming experience. But no study has been done yet on the casino industry in the country," he said.

Though the casino industry has been somewhat thriving in Goa, yet there was no scope for live gaming as yet. Players had to go offshore in Goa and then indulge themselves in casino and that too, play only electronic games, Ray claimed.

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"We are going to ask for a casino licence in Goa as well," he said.

It may be noted that the Public Gambling Act of 1867, a central legislation which prohibits public gambling, applies to all states, barring Goa and Sikkim which have their own laws that permit gambling.

In Goa, an amendment to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976, allows casinos to be set up at five star hotels and offshore vessels, with the prior permission of the government.

The Sikkim Casino Games (Control and Tax Rules), 2002, however, gives discretion to the Sikkim Government to grant licences to individuals or establishments for setting up casinos.

The Sikkim Regulation of Gambling (Amendment) Act of 2005 also allows the government discretionary powers to grant licence to gambling houses of its choice.


Image: A casino.
Photographs: Reuters
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