Friday, June 10, 2011

Casinos to lure tourists to Sikkim

Gangtok gets its second gambling station

Gangtok, June 9: For those who want to try their luck in gambling while on a holiday have a good news. A five star hotel here has set up a casino, the second in the hill state, to attract visitors.

The new gambling destination became operational last evening at the Mayfair resort in Ranipool, 10km from here.

“Casino Mahjong is the first land-based live five star casino with a full-fledged licence in the country,” said Trio Ventures Private Limited’s co-managing director Ugen Ladakhi.

The Mayfair group that got the licence for the facility from the Sikkim government on June 1 has authorised the company to run the facility.
The casinos in Goa are mostly off-shore and those in the hotels are electronic. The gambling station here will be operated manually where the dealings would be done by the attendants.

The Mayfair group had paid Rs 5 crore to the state for the five year licence and Rs 3 crore was spent to set up the facility.

Sikkim got its first gambling destination in 2009 when a casino was opened at the Hotel Royal Plaza in Gangtok.

The casino has a provisional licence for five years.

Currently the casino at the Mayfair resort, which was given a five star tag by the ministry of tourism, has eight slot machines, four roulettes and 10 card tables spread over 5000sq feet.

There are 60 attendants and six pit bosses to look after the gambling station.

“We are having a soft launch of the casino now and the grand opening is on June 24 in which guests from all over India are coming. There is already a buzz about our casino given the kind of playing options and facilities we are providing,” said Ladakhi.

He added that 10 more slot machines would be added to the facility by August.

Those who plan to visit the casino can try their luck at blackjack, baccarat, poker, marriage, flush and roulettes.

“All the dealers at the casino are from Sikkim whom we have trained for a period of one and half years. Out of the 160 staff members only the top management is from outside who have decades of experience in handling casinos,” said the co-managing director.

The hotel authorities feel that the casino will be able to attract more visitors to the state.

“Earlier, there were only few good hotels in Gangtok but today there are hundreds of hotels as Sikkim is witnessing a tourism boom. With the addition of casinos, Sikkim now offers more for high-end tourists who want to see the mountains and also entertain themselves in a casino. We are targeting people from the cities and those who go to Nepal just for gambling,” said Ladakhi.

The hotel authorities are of the opinion that the gambling stations would help create an all year round tourism season for the hill state.

“Once the airport at Pakyong in East Sikkim is ready in the next couple of years high- end tourism will take off in Sikkim and people will be flying in here to enjoy both nature and casinos. Sikkim will be the most sought after destination with its natural beauty, peace and entertainment avenues like casinos,” Ladakhi said.

The casino at Ranipool will be open from 4pm to 6am every day. There are plans to keep the facility open for 24 hours from August.

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