Slow revival of shuttered industry
Nepal’s Department of Industry has approved Goa-based gaming company Goa Coastal Resorts to develop a US$3 million casino at the Hyatt Hotel in Kathmandu. The project will be launched in partnership with Nepal-based Entertainment and Recreational Pvt. Ltd.
“We have registered a company under the name of ‘Casino Pride’, which is scheduled to come into operation within 45 days,” a spokesperson told the Nepal Mountain News.
Nepal’s casino industry has been in turmoil since 2013, when the government ruled that casinos must pay annual royalties amounting to NPR40 million (more than US$400,000). The amount was decreased to NPR30 million in 2014, but the casinos didn’t pay up, and the Nepalese government declared all gaming halls illegal.
Since then, some casinos have reopened, including the Millionaire’s Club & Casino at the Shangri La Hotel, now under the control of Hong Kong-based gaming operator Silver Heritage, and Casino Mahjong at the Soaltee Hotel. Goa Coastal Resorts would become the third gaming operation to run a casino in Nepal.
According to CalvinAyre.com, the government is reconsidering the regulations that caused the upheaval. “Casino Regulation 2013 has envisaged attracting foreign direct investment in casinos and the law was formulated accordingly,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. “However, considering the request of local operators, the ministry is doing groundwork to make some amendments.”
Casinos now need to have NPR 250 million (US$2.5 million) as paid-up capital and submit a bank guarantee of NPR 30 million (US$300,000). They are required to pay NPR 20 million (US $200,000) to renew their licenses every fiscal year, and must report windfall gain taxes before making any payments to players.
Kishore Silwal, president of the Casino Association Nepal, says Nepali investors are willing to resume business if the government lowers the paid-up capital and license renewal fees, reported CalvinAyre.com. “But the provision of windfall gain tax is not practical,” said Silwal. “We have told the MoCTCA that the regulation enforced in 2014 was not formulated based on ground realities, and casino operators of the country do not have any plan to obtain the new license until the regulation is revised.”