Sikkim casinos are currently about 4 hours from the nearest airport but that could soon change, at least that is what the casinos are betting on.
Giving the states distance from the Bagdogra airport tourism has been hurting for some time now which is a big problem for a state that does not allow locals into their casinos.
Sikkim has allowed casinos to operate within state lines since March 2009 when Casino Sikkim first opened. Casinos and online gambling ventures became legal under state laws to attract more tourism.
At first locals were allowed to play in the domestic casinos but that all changed in 2016 when the state government decided to only allow guests inside with out of state identification. The government said the local ban was to safeguard the interest of the local people.
The General manager of Casino Mahjong Sherap Lepcha told the media that on a weekday evening there are about 150 guests in his casino. He said that the casinos provide the nightlife for tourists but feels that the infrastructure doesn’t match the taxes.
Mr. Lepcha goes on to explain how an entry fee is taxed. A guest pays approximately ₹3,500 to enter the establishment. ₹1,000 goes to the state, another ₹700 goes to the Goods and Services Tax council (GST).
The casinos in Sikkim have been hurting ever since the state decided to ban locals. Not many out of country tourists come to Sikkim because of the four-hour ride from the closest airport to the state.
The government constructed an airport for the Gangtok area, but due to low visibility SpiceJet had to cease its daily flights. No other commercial airlines travel to the Pakyong Airport at this time.
India residents do have other options when it comes to playing casino games. Offshore online casinos have legal permits from their governing jurisdiction to offer mobile casinos and other services such as sports betting and poker to India residents.
India’s gambling laws are outdated and make no mention of offshore gambling sites. India players have been taking advantage of legal online casinos for years now. They are so popular that you can find online casinos that accept Indian rupees.