The government has declared casinos illegal from tomorrow bringing an end to the history of gaming business after over four-and-a-half decades.
We have asked casinos to shut their operations by tomorrow after they failed to clear their outstanding dues – in royalties – and get new licences, according to Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation spokesperson Mohan Krishna Sapkota.
He also said that the ministry has requested Home Ministry not to allow casinos to operate from tomorrow.
However, casinos could operate, if they renew their licence, according to the casino regulation, and pay their dues. “The licences could also be awarded to the new management, if they approach according to the new rule,” he added.
Earlier, the ministry had repeatedly extended the deadline for the dues payment. But the latest deadline expires tomorrow on Saturday (April 19).
The casinos owe a total of Rs 1.07 billion – in dues and renewal charges – to the government from the fiscal year 2005-06.
According to the new casino regulation – that is expected to regulate the gaming business – casinos will have to pay Rs 40 million annually as royalty to the government besides income tax.
The country has 10 casinos – eight in Kathmandu and two in Pokhara – but most of them have not cleared their dues. Casino Anna, Everest Casino, Casino Mahjong, Casino Royal, Casino Star and Casino Venus will shut their operations from Sunday, whereas other three – Casino Shangri-La of Kathmandu, and Casino Grande and Casino Fulbari – had closed their operations few months ago.
Though, some 4,000 people are employed in the casinos, they are also deprived of their salaries and various benefits.
Lately, the casinos have also not been abiding the law of the land and allowing the entrance of Nepalis, as according to them, the flow of tourists decreased.
The gambling houses were given a four-month deadline until Nov 21, 2013 to obtain new operating licences as per the new Casino Regulation which came into effect on July 16, 2013. They disregard the government diktat, and the government also went on extending deadline that continued till March 21, 2014. At the request of the casino staff, the government had extended 15-day more till March 20.