Nepal casinos rush to clear royalty dues after govt warning

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The Nepal government has collected Rs 810 million in royalties from various casinos operational in Nepal, according to a report in the Himalayan Times. The collection of royalty amounts followed the direction of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Bahadur Ale to this effect.

Last week, licenses of two casinos have been revoked by Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation after they failed to pay royalties. In the first week of February, the government had warned of action against non-payment of royalties by the casino operators. The casino sector in Nepal is believed to be employing around 15,000 people.

Earlier last month, Mike Bolsover, the CEO of Nepal casino operator SHL Management Pvt Ltd was barred from boarding a scheduled flight out of the Himalayan country due to the company failing to pay its taxes on casino operations at its two Nepal casinos – Tiger Palace Resort Bhairahawa and The Millionaire’s Club & Casino in Kathmandu.

Nepal Govt cancels casino licenses

According to the local news portal myRepublica, the casinos at the Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu and the Dreamland Hotel in Nepalgunj have been ordered to close after failing to pay their royalty dues despite repeated government requests. The five-star classification of the Yak & Yeti Hotel, which has run a casino since 1992, has also been revoked, with the ministry writing to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Council of Ministers, and the Ministry of Home Affairs to aid in the implementation of its decision.

Now casinos have been in rush to pay royalties. So far, Rs 810 million in royalties has been collected. Some other casinos have gone through documentation to clear dues,” said Khem Raj Joshi, an officer at the Department of Tourism. According to the department, so far, 17 casinos including Golden Finger Gaming Zone Pvt. have paid royalties. Now, arrears amounting to over Rs 1.11 billion remain unpaid in royalties, the government sources were quoted by the Himalayan Times.

Like Goa and Sikkim in India, the curbs on the casino industry in Nepal due to Covid19 have led to economic devastation in the tourism industry. “The casino operators are resuming their operations, in line with the decision of the District Administration Office of Kathmandu on September 1 to allow economic, social, and business activities by following health safety protocols,” the Nepal Casino Association (NCA) said in a statement in September 2021.