Nepal To Change Stance On Proposed Casino Act Regulation
The Nepalese government was going to introduce a new Casino Act that would streamline casino operations, encourage foreign investment and spark development in the small country that thrives on tourism.
The government had announced its intention to introduce a draft Casino Bill in June 2018 after the Law Ministry gave them permission. Unfortunately, the draft bill never came into existence.
Now it appears that the Nepalese government plans to make the Casino Act a part of the new Tourism Act instead of having it as separate legislation. This is bad news for tourism entrepreneurs who claim that the industry will not be able to attract foreign investment without a separate act. They feel that weak casino laws will create a high risk scenario for them and drive away investors.
Nepal’s casinos currently operate under the Casino Regulation 2013 but the government saw a need to pass separate legislation partly in order to address the number of casinos that have not been paying taxes. Reports of “casino royalty irregularities” that amount to an estimated $11.4 million is definitely an issue that needs to be dealt with. It has been suggested that there are presently about a dozen casinos in Nepal that are operating outside the law.
New Casino Act Will Supersede Existing Regulations
Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota stated that the government will indeed introduce the Casino Act but it won’t be a separate piece of legislation. She went on to say that they are actively discussing the issue and the new casino law will be integrated into the new Tourism Act which is being drafted by the government. With this ruling, there is some uncertainty surrounding which laws casinos should operate under. A new casino act will immediately supersede the existing Casino Regulation and will regulate Nepalese casinos in a way that protects foreign investment.
The government issued a public notice last March that ordered gaming houses to settle their delinquent royalty payments within 35 days or they would face legal action. It doesn’t appear that too many operators took the threat seriously as just one casino responded. The Financial Act stipulates that casino operators must pay Rs20 million to acquire a license which must be renewed annually and they must also pay an annual royalty fee of Rs40 million. As it stands, gambling licenses are only being granted to casinos that are housed in 5-star hotels such as the newest casino that now operates in Tiger Palace Resort.