Monday, June 06, 2011

‘Mahzong’ on-shore live 'Casino' at Mayfair,Gangtok opens on June8

All casino aficionados in India who rued the lack of a live casino in the country and had to travel to destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau or Kathmandu for that thrill of ‘live gaming’ now have a reason to cheer. A full-fledged on-shore casino, the first of its kind in the country, is coming up at Mayfair-Gangtok, a five-star deluxe property spread over 48 acres and owned by the Orissa-based Mayfair Hotels & Resorts
The company is going for soft launch of the casino at Gangtok on June 8, something which the hotel chain’s founder chairman Dilip Ray calls ‘’dream come true’’.
“We have got the license 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”, says Ray.

Christened ‘Mahzong’ (Chinese term for gambling), Ray expects, the casino to pull a substantial outbound casino traffic from the country and also draw gaming lovers from Goa. However, he did not share his business expectations from the casino, saying it is pre-mature at this stage to talk of numbers.

“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 that live gaming experience. But no study has been done yet on the casino industry in the country”, said he.
Though the casino industry has been somewhat thriving in Goa, yet there was no scope for live gaming as yet. Players had to go off shore in Goa and then indulge themselves in casino and that too, play only electronic games, Ray claimed. “We are going to ask for a Casino license 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 created to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976 allows casinos to be set up only at five star hotels or offshore vessels with the prior permission of the government.

On the other hand, in Sikkim, the Sikkim Casino Games (Control and Tax Rules), 2002 gives discretion to the Sikkim government to grant licenses to individuals or establishments for setting up casinos.

The Sikkim Regulation of Gambling (Amendment) Act, 2005 also gives the government discretionary powers to authorize gambling either on certain days or to certain gambling houses by grant of license.

Initially, the casino at Mayfair-Gangtok will operate on a makeshift basis from the hotel’s conference hall with a built-up area of around 1000 sq ft. But later it will move to a 30,000 sq ft space reserved for the purpose within the premises. The casino will occupy three to four floors and will operate from 4 pm to 6 am.

The casino will have an almost entire gamut of live games- roulette, black jack, baccarat, kitty, mini flush and poker. Players will be charged an entry fee of Rs 500 and there are 150 dealers at the casino. Food, drinks and entertainment will be offered as complementaries to the participants.

“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, CCTV cameras have been installed and dealers will be changing in every twenty minutes”, Ray said.

Ray also plans to put up a shopping arcade at the casino after a year of its functioning.

He is also betting big on the casino business and expects Gangtok to be one of the sought after casino hubs in the world as the city is expected to get an airport within a year.

For the kin accompanying casino lovers, there would be a separate entertainment zone with a dedicated troupe of singers and dancers and this has been planned out on the lines of Kathmandu casinos


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