A top holiday destination in India, Goa is most popular for its beaches, breathtaking views and exciting nightlife. With the entertainment hub, a hotspot for tourists, its onshore and offshore casinos are a great addition to visitors looking for some amusement in the gaming scene. While the current pandemic has brought multiple non-essential businesses to a temporary halt, the casinos located in Goa have finally received the green light to reopen starting this November.
Besides the country’s recovering live poker situation, its online offerings have also seen some light as the World Poker Tour India online series is set to kick off this week. A massive INR 13.5 crore (~US$1.8 million) in prize guarantees are in store for players participating in this major event. With good news continuously pouring in, poker action is undeniably alive and well in the country with many poker enthusiasts awaiting its eventual comeback.
Goa casinos reopen
Closed off since March, a breath of relief comes for casino operators in Goa, India as the government allows the restart of operations in the state. The news came just this late October with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant saying, “From November 1, we have given the casinos permissions to start. They will have to follow all the SOPs as will be issued to them by the Home Department and with 50% capacity, they can start. We need to promote tourism activity.” While the casinos were given the green light, CM Sawant added that the operators will have to pay the license fees per month from now on before resuming operations as compared to its usual yearly basis for payments.
The state is home to ten casinos operating out of five-star resorts and six offshore casinos, boats anchored on the Mandovi river. With these establishments being the second biggest tourist attraction in Goa, the set reopening is a step towards bringing back tourists and jumpstarting the heavily affected economy. In addition, Goa’s beach shacks, one of the biggest highlights for tourism activity, have also been given permission to reopen under standard health protocols to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Drawing over 7.8 million tourists annually, Goa has also relaxed its travel restrictions not anymore requiring visitors a negative Covid-19 health certificate prior to their travel but instead will strictly implement social distancing and other necessary precautions. The decision to reopen however was not well-received by all with a few organizations protesting the latest announcement.
Goa’s Youth Congress chief Varad Mardolkar underlined their issues in a statement saying, “As our state has not totally recovered from the coronavirus onslaught yet, it is highly advisable to restrict the free movement of people in large numbers to curb the spread of the virus. In such a situation, reopening of casinos on the Mandovi river will give an open invitation to the corona pandemic.”
While GSM’s Nitin Phaldesai added, “We condemn the government decision to reopen casinos. Casinos are a threat to Goa’s social and cultural fabric and it is extremely shameful that the state government is supporting the gambling business under the guise of attracting tourists and earning revenue.”
Despite the opposition, the casinos were back in business beginning November 1st with live poker gradually making a return. Poker rooms reopened as well hosting a few cash game tables with the uncertainty of live tournaments hanging at the moment. Business Head at Poker, Delta Corp, Manish J. Adnani sheds some light on the current situation noting, “We will be strictly following the government-approved norms for health check at the entry point. Our tables are all adapted to the new international social distancing norms with fiberglass shields and 6-max seating.” With live poker gradually taking a step towards recovery, eager poker players will have to wait a bit more for live events to return to normalcy given the current dynamic situation.
WPT India Online kickoffs
On the other hand, enthusiasts who are craving for some needed poker action can tune into the World Poker Tour India online series beginning this week. With three successful live seasons in the past, WPT is back this year with a major series running on the India-based online gaming client, Adda52.
The online festival has an extensive schedule of 154 events covering a massive INR 13.5 crore (~US$1.8 million) in prize pool guarantees. The WPT India Main Event, set to be the highlight of the series, will be available from November 16-22 running a total of 10 starting flights for a buy-in of INR 11,000 (~US$ 148). The major event alone boasts of a INR 2.5 crore (~US$ 340,000) guarantee with a high possibility of even a larger prize pool due to the increased traffic across the online poker platform. Last year, Ashish Munot outlasted a 630-entry field Main Event to win his career-best live cash of INR 63,48, 641 (~US$ 85,825).
Running from November 5-22, 2020, the prestigious series will also award INR 3.5 million (~US$ 47,650) across its two Player of the Series (POS) Leaderboards: the MEGA POS Leaderboard and the MINI POS Leaderboard for an added bonus aside from the tournament prizes.
“WPT has moved the yearly stop in India to our online platform Adda52.com. We are unable to have our yearly feature at the Deltin Royale due to the Covid -19 pandemic. The WPT Online India festival will start in early November and features a 2.5 Crore GTD Main Event with 2 leaderboards and other welcome prize attractions for the winners. Schedules and other details will follow soon. We hope to make it a memorable experience for players in the country and look forward to crowning the new champions in 2020,” commented Adnani about the upcoming series.