Nepal to seize fugitive casino operators’ properties
In a recent development, Nepal has decided to bring new legislative measures that will attach properties of casino operators who don’t pay up royalties and taxes. The draft is called the Casino Bill and will be part of a new Federal Tourism Bill.
According to the Kathmandu Post, the new Casino Bill has provisions to attach the operators’ properties outside Nepal too, giving the Nepalese government a fiercer control over casino fugitives.
Back in 2013, Nepal had introduced some legal measures to keep the casino operators under government’s watch. Some operators were flouting the existing Nepalese laws such as the disallowance of Nepalese citizens from entering Nepal’s casinos. But with this new bill, it seems the government has finally decided to crack down on those defaulters.
The gambling operators also put up a bit of a fight when the government decided to shut down all casinos not abiding by the casino regulations of 2013, in April 2014. The operators went to the Supreme Court of Nepal and the Court produced an interim order to allow the casinos to remain open, and the operators took advantage of it.
An estimate shows Nepal’s casino royalty irregularities to cross NPR 1 Billion (~INR 62.89 Crores). The proposed bill has put the responsibility of the irregularities on the hotel first. “As the casino licence belongs to the hotel, it should be liable, and accordingly, the new law will define it. If the casino operator fails to clear the dues, the hotel will be liable to pay them first,” said a ministry official.
Some of the powers the bill gives the government is to seize the fugitive’s passport and bank accounts, stop utilities like water and electricity, etc.
“We have held several rounds of discussions on the new law. We plan to consult the private sector and the public regarding the new bill,” said Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry. “The final draft will be sent to the Finance and Law ministries for their approval before submitting it to the Cabinet.”
After the Cabinet nods, the bill will be tabled in the Parliament. About this, Upadhyaya said, “House committees may hold several rounds of deliberations before the bill is endorsed,” adding that they would table the bill in the upcoming session of Parliament.
According to some industry watchdogs, the casino business in Nepal is expected to burst with the opening of over a dozen luxury hotels. This will prompt a separate law to govern this burgeoning industry generating high-paying jobs and foreign currency.
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