The Nepal government has decided not to go ahead with a June 2018 tourism department proposal to bring a separate legislation to regulate the casino industry. Instead, the government is now planning to introduce legislative provisions pertaining to the casino industry as part of the new Tourism Bill that the government is currently drafting.
In June, the government moved to bring a separate Casino Act to streamline the industry and encourage new global players to enter Nepal amid expectations of a boom in the tourism and hospitality industries with the ongoing development of more than 10 five-star hotels across the country. However, it now seems that the government will be taking a different approach to regulate casinos.
“We will bring the Casino Act, but not separately. We are currently discussing the issue. As per the plan, the casino law will come out as an annex to the Tourism Act that the government is currently drafting,” Tourism Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota is quoted as telling the Kathmandu Post.
As per the news report in Kathmandu Post, government officials feel it would be better to integrate casino-related provisions in the proposed Tourism Act.
While the casinos in Nepal are currently governed by the Nepal Casino Regulations, 2013, many feel that the current regulatory framework is weak as the regulations are not backed by a law passed by the parliament. Many casino operators have refused to pay the license fees, taxes and royalties due under the Casino Regulations and have instead chosen to approach the Supreme Court for relief.
Experts believe that a comprehensive law to regulate casinos will end the ambiguity on payment of fees and also usher a proper regulatory framework that will end the current legal complexities and ambiguities.