Long-anticipated changes to the way the gambling industry in Nepal works would not come as soon as the community expected if at all since the Government of the country appears to have scrapped its plans to introduce a specific Casino Act to the field. Instead, the lawmakers are going to attach regulations linked to the casino operation on a country level to the recently discussed Tourism Act.
This turn of events came as a surprise to the field as many people were interested in witnessing the effects of a specifically dedicated Casino Bill 2018 which was supposed to aim to improve the status quo in Nepal. It could be recalled that the beginning of June witnessed the government submitting a special draft to the Cabinet of Nepal in order to be further examined and eventually voted by the officials. This happened after the Ministry of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs gave green light to the primary version of the bill.
For the ultimate goal of this bill, the industry was supposed to witness more opportunities for investment in future projects, which have the potential to draw more tourists in turn. Foreign companies were also supposed to receive an incentive to invest in the country with the help of the proposed bill. Another of the main objectives was for the field to be able to provide enough work positions for people seeking employment. This was set to bring a positive boost to the country’s economy in general.
Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota stated that a separate Casino Act is no longer considered by the lawmakers, as the Tourism Act would feature several regulations related to casino operation. However, the said annex attached to the said Act would not feature the complete set of rules which the field needs at the moment, and it is unlikely that foreign investment would be boosted by it. For the time being it has not been confirmed whether or not the plan for the Casino bill has been canceled for good, which would not be beneficial for the overall state of the field.
Proposed Casino Bill 2018 Remains Frozen
At the moment foreign investment in the casino field is crucial and the proposed Casino Bill 2018 was striving to make things work in that direction. It could not be denied that in its current state the set of rules guiding the casino field in Nepal, called Casino Regulation 2013 could be defined as unnecessarily complicated, as well as featuring certain situations in which wording of the law could be interpreted as it is convenient for the individual.
Casino developers currently overseeing their development in Nepal have been debating the current state of the licensing fees and taxes applied to the field. Casino licensing for the field amounts to some NPR20 million (US$185,694) which is then subjected to an annual renewal process.
This results in an additional fee reaching 50 percent of the original price of the operation permit issued by the authorities. Up until this year, the casino developers also had to allocate some NPR30 million of another annual fee that is mandatory according to the Financial Act of the country. However, changes were bound to happen in the 2018-2019 financial year, when this fee would reach NPR40 million, twice as much as the licensing fee.
These complications have led to a situation in which the casino developers avoid paying their taxes and fees which had to be addressed and fixed. With this move they are essentially working in an illegal manner. Such occurrences were what triggered the desire to change in the first place, but as it turns out this might not happen in the foreseeable future. The upcoming weeks are set to witness more information issued regarding the Tourism Act and the potential changes that it could potentially bring to the field.