Three casinos in Nepal were stripped of their operating licenses for failing to meet their duties to the state, reported The Himalayan Times. The three incumbents are due NRP905.5 million ($7.51million).
Ultimatum Deadline Day Passed
The Department of Tourism (DoT) of the Himalayan country revoked the licenses of Rock International, Happy Hour Kathmandu and Oriental Hotels (Radisson Hotel) Lazimpat for violation of the Casino Regulations 2013 after all three failed to clear their outstanding fees and royalties to the state.
The incumbents failed to act upon the ultimatum issued on March 24 by the DoT after the direction of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Bahadur Ale. The ultimatum gave the three casino operators five days to clear their obligations and after they failed to settle their respective outstanding amounts, the DoT acted to cancel their licenses.
The ultimatum was not the first attempt of the government to collect the arrears of the incumbents but repeated public notices issued before the ultimatum urging the casino operators to pay were ignored.
The DoT sent an official letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Police Headquarters on March 29, requesting the Ministry and police authorities to enforce the decision to strip the casinos of their licenses.
Rock International is due NRP303.8 million ($2.52 million), Happy Hour Kathmandu is on the hook for NRP301.7 million ($2.5 million) and Oriental Hotels owes the Nepal government NRP300 million ($2.49 million) in royalties and renewal license fees.
Casinos Among the Hardest Hit
The revoking of the three casino licenses was the latest enforcement action the government took against casino operators in the country which failed to meet their obligations. In February, the DoT canceled the licenses of Yak & Yeti Hotel and Dreamland Hotel after failure on the casinos’ behalf to pay their royalties for the fiscal year 2020-21.
As a result of the failure to pay the casino royalties, Yak & Yeti Hotel was further sanctioned by revoking its five-star hotel classification after actions undertaken by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Council of Ministers.
Dreamland Hotel in Nepalgunj operated by Happy Hour is due over $5 million and had its license revoked by the DoT, while the Kathmandu-based Yak & Yeti Hotel – one of the oldest hotels in the country with over three decades of history – owes the government $3.5 million in arrears for the fiscal 2020-21 and casino license renewal fees.
The casino sector was among the hardest hit by the pandemic-related restrictions on gambling and international travel. After 18 months of being shut down, the Nepalese casinos re-opened in October last year.