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Beginner’s Luck

“Pick a number between 0 and 36,” she said, turning to me abruptly, breaking into my reverie.  Aboard the gaming paradise, Deltin Royale, off the Goan shores in River Mandovi, I had just about joined a roulette table, trying to work out where to place my first bet. “12,” I blurted out randomly. She reached out and put a Rs 500 chip on the number without blinking. And even as I wondered where that came from, the dealer had set the wheel in motion. I looked on in anticipation, waiting for the result. It was 12. “Thanks,” she beamed as she collected her win 36 six times the bet placed and set the mood for evening for me. My luck, it turned out, was rolling for that one night. Much later into the night, I walked out richer by Rs 25,000 made from Rs 1,000 initial investment after two hours of ‘safe’ gaming. Not a bad deal there.

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I am not a compulsive gambler. In fact, I happen to be one of those who believes that adage “Unlucky in love and lucky in cards” and consider myself quite a loser there. Good for my love life for sure! But this was one night I invoked all that pulled me down in life to make my luck work. And I wasn’t the only one there.

After mining was stopped by the present government, off shore Gaming is the next big revenue earner for Goa. It is also fast becoming an entertainment high point with the tourists (given that Goa residents are banned from entering the casinos) who earlier looked at Nepal for their gambling options. Plus with the Chinese (and now Indian) gambling boom in Macau nearer home, gambling tourism is acquiring a new standard. The casinos have now turned into complete family entertainment hubs, a la Vegas style.

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“We have it in our blood,” laughed a fellow gamer winking, when I voiced my apprehensions the very first time — his obvious reference to the not-so-famous chausar outcome from Mahabharata. Upstairs at level two is Vegas – the restaurant with a selection of Indian, Italian, Continental, Thai and Chinese cuisines. The mood here was very party like and the guests could be seen enjoying a live dance performance by a group from the middle-east. The performance was followed by an act by an illusionist and a stand-up comedian. Everyone seemed to be having a blast.

Later in the night, as I boarded the transfer boat that was to take me to the jetty at Panjim, I took in the grand appearance of the ship with four levels spread over 40,000 sq. ft. offering 123 tables and 850 gaming positions for one last time. Gaming is acquiring a new face here with this being a perfect example of a certain level of gaming, glamour and opulence in India.

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