Nepal’s Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has said all the country’s closed casinos will be brought back into operation soon.
On April 19, the ministry in the capital Kathmandu (pictured) – where according to the Times of India newspaper eight of the country’s 10 casinos are located – declared all such venues in Nepal illegal. That was on the grounds that none of them had obtained new operating licences by April 18 reported a number of regional media outlets at the time.
The finance minister said the government is holding talks with casino operators, workers’ unions and other stakeholders to bring the casinos back into operation, the Kantipur news website reported. “Protecting jobs is as important as creating them,” the minister was quoted as saying.
The government had ordered the casinos to pay their outstanding royalty dues and obtain new operating permits as per the regulation, Kantipur added.
The online publication also reported that Nepal’s Financial Bill 2014-15 has slashed the royalty amount charged to casinos to NPR30 million (US$308,809) from NPR40 million. The fee for electronic gaming has been reduced to NPR20 million from NPR30 million.
The government slashed the royalty following casino operators’ complaints that the fee enforced by the Casino Regulation last year was too high.
“As the government is positive on reopening the casinos and operate them legally, we are discussing various measures to make the new regulation flexible,” Madhusudan Burlakoti, chief of the ministry’s Industry Division, which issues casino operating licences, was quoted as saying.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China