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Casinos allowed to operate until next cabinet meeting

The government has, again, extended the deadline for the casinos to pay their outstanding dues and renew licenses, after the deadline ended today evening.

It is the fourth time in nine months, the ministry has extended the deadline for casinos to clear their royalty dues and renew operating licences.

The ministry has decided to extend the deadline by 15 days, according to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said, adding that the casinos will operate until cabinet’s new decision.

The ministry had earlier asked eight casinos to pay outstanding dues and renew their licenses by today. They have to pay a total of Rs 1.07 billion outstanding dues to the government.

The casino staffers have, however, appealed the ministry for some time as they are still to receive their salaries and benefits from their employers. The casinos have not paid their staff regularly and the amount adds up to Rs 1.97 billion. Eight casinos operating in the country employ around 11,000 people.
Earlier, the cabinet meeting on March 20 had given casinos the final deadline of April 4 to clear their outstanding dues and renew their license or face a closure after Friday.

The casino operators have, however, been long pressing the government to rollback the latest directives of casino operation that has doubled their royalty and revenue.

The casinos have been repeatedly extended the time-frame to pay their dues. Earlier too, they were given a four-month deadline until November 21, 2013, to get new operating licences as the ministry brought the new Casino Regulation on July 16, 2013.

The deadline was then extended by four months until March 21 but was further extended by a 15-day on March 20.

Until the last deadline – that ended on Friday – the ministry received just one application from a mini-casino or electronic gaming.

Under the Financial Bill 2013-14, a casino is required to pay Rs 40 million in annual royalty to the government, up from Rs 20 million earlier. Likewise, the electronic gaming houses will have to pay Rs 30 million.