Nepal’s top casinos face license renewal hurdles, owe government over Rs 11 crore

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Government records reveal that three prominent casinos in Nepal, namely Central Media, Ratna Services, and Venue Creation, have failed to meet their financial obligations to the tune of over Rs 110 million this fiscal year. Despite the regulatory requirement to pay royalties, renewal fees, and additional charges, these establishments have fallen short on their dues.

Chun Bahadur Tamang, a section officer at the Department of Tourism’s hotel division, confirmed the non-payment, highlighting that the licenses for these casinos haven’t been renewed due to outstanding debts. Central Media tops the list with an outstanding balance of Rs 80 million, followed by Ratna Services owing over Rs 20 million, and Venue Creation with dues exceeding Rs 10 million.

As reported by My Republica, Central Media, specifically, faces a heavy bill of more than Rs 80 million, encompassing royalties and renovation fees, hindering the renewal of its casino license. Similarly, Ratna Services and Venue Creation are required to settle their arrears of Rs 29 million and Rs 11 million, respectively, within the next month to comply with regulatory requirements.

Under Nepal’s Finance Bill of 2080 BS, casino operators are mandated to pay installments totaling 40 percent by mid-January, 30 percent by mid-April, and the remaining 30 percent by mid-July annually for license renewal. Despite these financial obligations, the government has managed to amass over Rs 760 million in royalties from casino operations within the first half of the fiscal year 2023/24.

Currently, Nepal’s Department of Tourism has registered a total of 30 casinos, comprising both major establishments operating in five-star hotels and mini-casinos situated in four-star hotels. Notably, some casinos have opted not to renew their licenses, resulting in legal disputes and subsequent court orders allowing them to continue operations pending resolution.

While the official count stands at 30 registered casinos, the actual number of operational casinos stands at 39, considering multiple establishments operating at single locations. Despite regulatory efforts to streamline the industry, challenges persist regarding compliance and financial transparency among casino operators in Nepal.