At the end of June, Nepal’s government decided to no longer be as strict on gambling in the country. It made changes to the Casino Regulation of 2013 that will now give operators the ability to offer casinos and electronic games up to three kilometers (1.8 miles) from international borders, according to the Kathmandu Post. The previous limit was five kilometers (3 miles).
Casino operators from various jurisdictions across Nepal had expressed their concerns over the restrictions, arguing that they were too limiting. In making the changes, a ministry spokesperson, Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, stated, “The government has shown flexibility by allowing casinos to operate at a distance of up to 3 km from international borders in the context of the upcoming Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign.”
There are already a number of hotels being constructed at points along the Nepal-India border and investors of those properties have been lobbying for more relaxed controls. The Nepalese Department of Tourism agrees, stating, “There is no logic in restricting casinos within a certain area or distance. The key requirement is to monitor them properly.”
After the Casino Regulation 2013 was introduced, several gambling operations were forced to shut down. Regulators asserted that, through the act, the country was losing around $18.2 million from nonpayment of royalties and the Department of Tourism pulled the licenses of those operators. However, 11 venues reopened in under a year after a court decided they could continue to operate. Two other properties, both five-star hotels with casinos, are still closed. All 11 venues agreed to operate within the framework of the new regulations in order to reopen.
While border limits are being relaxed, limits on building in other areas are coming under fire. Tiger One and Silver Heritage Investment, which are behind the Tiger Palace Resort in Bhairahawa, have been ordered to stop construction while the government determines if the venue has been encroaching on public land. It reportedly has obtained almost 35,000 square feet through questionable means.
The chairman of a local water user group asserts, “We have been speaking out against public property being encroached on by the resort from the beginning, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. The resort did not coordinate with the locals and captured the land.”