‘Casinos in India are a faint shadow of what it is in the West’

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Dinesh Patel's bookAfter a book on restaurants in Goa and another on historical fiction, journalist-writer Dinesh Patel has come out with a title on casinos. It looks at the scene both in Goa and far beyond. This is the first book in India of its kind. He shares with FREDERICK NORONHA some details about the book, and his views on the sector here.

How would you briefly describe Indian Jackpot?

Indian jackpot is the first comprehensive book on casinos that throws light on various aspects of the gaming industry, right from its world and Indian history to the types of casinos, different types of games, what to expect at a casino, what not to do, house advantage, gaming superstitions, among other topics.

The book gives an overall view and also features the tycoons of gaming industry and showcases the top twenty gaming destinations in the world, gaming nations and India’s gaming neighbours, besides gaming in India itself. The book also warns about the harmful effects of the casino and explains the evils of going overboard.

Could you be seen as promoting casino gambling? If so, would you see this as an issue?

I have made it aptly clear in the preface — “Do not Overdo What You Must Do” — that the book should not be taken as an effort to promote casinos, nor an endeavour to denounce it. We get what we deserve and if casinos have come to our shores there is more than one reason, than mere economic compulsion. I think it is a good facility to have, specially if you are entertaining guests who have not seen a casino. Again, casinos now give tourists the night-life option that was missing.

What is the state of casino gambling in India today? Has it lived to its expectations (of promoters, governments, clients)?

In all seriousness, casinos in India are a faint shadow of what it is in the West, and thank God for that! The casino industry can still be seen to be at a fledgling stage and at the whims and fancies of government institutions. When the gaming industry took off in Goa in the 1990s, a lot of entrepreneurs were keen to strike gold and join the bandwagon of what seemed a lucrative business option, supported by the government.

Today while the big guns have managed to stay afloat, smaller operators have fallen by the wayside. Faced with government policies and high fees, many casinos are shutting shop or stalling operations and awaiting government announcements at the Assembly session in March. Continue reading “‘Casinos in India are a faint shadow of what it is in the West’”