Will government shut casinos down?
The government has to shut down the casinos, if they failed to pay their dues by tonight.
Spokesperson at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Mohan Krishna Sapkota said that they have already notified Home Ministry asking it to take due action if they fail to adhere to the government’s repeated calls.
The Supreme Court has yesterday upheld the Casino Regulations 2013 endorsed by the cabinet last year in a bid to penalise tax defaulting casinos and ban entry of Nepali gamblers into the casinos.
According to the new regulations, the casinos operators are required to renew their operating license by the March 21 deadline, which means they will become illegal by tonight.
Earlier, four casinos of Kathmandu and Pokhara had moved the court demanding annulment of the regulations as the government had heavily hiked royalty and other charges on the basis of the Casino Regulations 2013.
But a three-member bench led by Justice Suishila Karki ruled against the plea arguing that the regulations were prepared according to the Supreme Court's earlier order.
The new regulations states that the operators must pay Rs 20 million for a casino license, whereas Rs 10 million for a mini casino.
Likewsie, they also requires to renew the license annually by paying 50 per cent of the operating license fee, the regulation states, adding that the casino operators must also pay the government annual royalty of Rs 40 million for big gaming houses and Rs 30 million for mini casinos.
The ten casinos operating in Kathmandu and Pokhara are required to pay more than Rs 1 billion dues to the government. These casinos owed the government Rs 656.84 million in due royalty amount as of mid-July. Apart from this amount, each of them also has to pay another Rs 40 million in royalty amount for this fiscal year.
The financial ordinance in the current fiscal year had fixed annual royalty amount of Rs 40 million for each casino. The amount had to be paid in advance to the ministry within two months of the beginning of the fiscal year. But they failed to pay the amount on time and have to pay 15 per cent fine also.
Each of the casinos has to pay a fine of at least Rs 12 million for not paying the royalty of this fiscal.
Though they have been employing some 15,000 people directly, they have not paid the staff salary and other benefits.
The casino workers have been repeatedly putting pressure on the government to force the operators to pay them or shut down the casino after they get paid.
The government has been repeatedly extending the deadline for the casinos.
Earlier, the government had asked all casinos to clear the due royalty amount and renew their operating licences within November 20. But after the casino operators request, it had been extended the deadline to March 21.
The earlier Casino Nepal currently Casino Mahjong has the highest dues to pay the government as it has to pay Rs 266.80 million as of mid-July. The casino also must additional Rs 40 million as royalty for this fiscal year and a 15 per cent fine – or at least Rs 12 million – on the unpaid royalty.
Likewise, Casino Fulbari based in Pokhara owes Rs 160.86 million royalty due, Casino Anna Rs 152.68 million, and Casino Royale, Casino Everest, Casino Venus, Casino Rad and Casino Tara (now Casino Star) owe from Rs 2.96 million to Rs 49.50 million dues.
Casino Pokhara based in Hotel Pokhara Grand though has already been shut down still owes Rs 827,500. Casino Shangrila closed its shop after clearing all its dues.
The due royalty
• Casino Nepal (currently Casino Mahjong) – Rs 266.80m
• Casino Fulbari – Rs 160.86m
• Casino Anna – Rs 152.68
• Casino Royale – Rs 49.50m
• Casino Everest – Rs 17.19m
• Casino Venus – Rs 3.51m
• Casino Rad – Rs 3.33m
• Casino Tara (currently Casino Star) – Rs 2.96m
• Casino Pokhara (closed) – Rs 827,500