Nepal declares all casinos illegal

20 April 2014



The government of Nepal has declared all casinos operating in the country illegal and asked them to shut operations by Sunday 20th april. The decision brings an end to the gaming business that began in the country 47 years ago.


The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) took the decision as the operators of casinos did not show interest to clear outstanding dues and royalty despite the government extending deadline by four times. The government had given nine months to casinos to clear their dues. 

Casinos owe a total of Rs 1.07 billion to the government. Their pending dues date back to as early as fiscal year 2005/06.

“The ministry didn´t renew licenses of the ten casinos operating in the premises of different five-star hotels in the country as some didn´t apply for renewal within the given timeframe and applications of others were filed without fulfilling due process,” MoCTCA said in a statement on Friday.

Mohan Krishna Sapktoa, spokesperson at MoCTCA, said all casinos will be illegal from Sunday. He also said the ministry has requested the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) not to allow casinos to do business from Sunday itself.


Earlier, the government had introduced Casino Rules 2013 in a bid to regulate them and make casino business more decent as per the Tourism Policy of 2008. The rule had made it mandatory for all casinos to apply for renewal of their license by paying all outstanding dues within four months of the beginning of the current fiscal year.
Casinos operated in Hotel Shangrila and Pokhara-based Fulbari Resort and Spa and Hotel Pokhara Grande have already notified the government about closure of their operations.

Meanwhile, MoCTCA has maintained that the government would leave no stone unturned to promote casinos and protect jobs of thousands of workers employed by them. Each casino was employing around 1,000 people.

Tourism ministry officials say they were positive toward suggestions received from Casino Association of Nepal (CAN) and that they were open for discussion for effective management of casino business.

Responding to the government´s move, CAN President Kishor Silwal said casinos would abide by the government´s direction. He, however, claimed that all casinos, except two, had cleared their dues till 2012/13. “We have reservations over the government´s decision to impose duty by doubling royalty as per the Casino Rules 2013,” he added.

According to the rules, casinos have to pay Rs 40 million annually as royalty to the government. 

The shutdown of casinos means Nepal will lose foreign visitors who used to visit the country for gambling.

Tourism ministry officials said they were holding discussions with the Ministry of Finance regarding recovery of royalty and outstanding dues from the casinos.

Certainly this are not the best news for the gambling community in the subcontinent, and indirectly for poker in India. Nepal was certainlly an occasional destination for some India poker players, which are running out of options to gamble legally in India and neighbouring countries. 




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