The cabinet has again – for the fourth time in last nine months – extended the deadline – by 15 days from last Friday to April 19 – to pay their outstanding dues and renew operating licences.
The cabinet today let the casinos last chance to pay their dues and renew licences, as the tourism minister Bhim Acharya proposed extension in the cabinet – according to him – at the request of casino employee unions.
The earlier former bureaucrat-government led by chief justice Khil Raj Regmi had extended the deadline thrice for them pay their dues under the new Casino Regulation 2013.
The government has allowed the gambling houses four-month to November 21, 2013, to get new operating licences under the new Casino Regulation that came into effect from July 16, 2013.
According to chief of the Legal Division at the ministry Ranjan Krishna Aryal, they are serious this time. “If they fail to pay their dues by April 19, their operating licences will be automatically scrapped,” he added.
The casinos have been not following the government regulation and asking for deadline extension everytime promising to abide by the regulation.
The Financial Bill 2013-14 had doubled the royalty amount that the casinos and mini casinos have to pay the government.
According to the new rule, a casino is required to pay Rs 40 million and electronic gaming houses – mini casinos – Rs 30 million annually to renew their licences.
Likewise, thecasinos must have a paid-up capital of at least Rs 250 million whereas electronic gaming houses must have Rs 150 million paid up capital.
Though the casinos moved the Supreme Court asking to cancel the new regulation, the court on March 21 rejected their plea.
The government might give some relaxation to the casinos, if they pay their dues, according to Acharya.
The casinos, though, have been attracting a lot of Indian tourists to Nepal, in recent years they have been passing through hard times, also due to the legal battle between the casino king R D Tuttle and his accountant Rakesh Wadhwa, that ended with Tuttle forcing out of the casino business. Wadhwa took over Nepal Recreation Centre that run most of the casinos in the country. But he also had to leave the country after the government tightened the rule as he had been defaulting taxes.
Currently, there are 10 casinos in the country – eight in Kathmandu Valley and two in Pokhara – employing some 3,500 workers, most of whom have not been paid, according to the casino employees unions. The casinos own more thab Rs 657.66 million in outstanding tax and royalties dues to the government. They have been defaulting taxes since 2006.
Of the 10 – Casino Grand at the Hotel Grand in Pokhara and Casino Shangri La at the Shangri La Hotel in Kathmandu – have already been closed down.