Casinos in Nepal may close
KATHMANDU, 16 February 2011 – Nepal’s casinos, which draw thousands of foreign tourists each year, are under threat after tax investigators recommended eight out of 10 of them be closed, an official said Tuesday.
Gambling is illegal in Nepal, but eight hotels in the capital Kathmandu and two in the resort town of Pokhara operate casinos under special government licences that only allow them to admit foreign customers.
“We have recommended the tourism ministry revoke the licences of eight casinos that have failed to pay the dues worth 30 million rupees (US$4.9 million),” said Department of Revenue Investigation director general Mahesh Dahal.
“The finance ministry directed us to clear the dues from the casinos that haven’t paid them for six years.”
Laxman Bhattarai, a spokesman with the tourism ministry, which issues licences to the casinos, said his department had not reached a decision yet.
“We have received the letter and we are looking into this. We will decide very soon. But we would also like to hear from the casino operators,” Bhattarai told AFP.
Nepal’s first casino opened in 1968 in in the Soaltee Oberoi owned by former King Gyanendra and the industry has long been a draw for tourists from neighbouring India.
The eight casinos under threat are Casino Nepal, Casino Anna, Casino Venus, Casino Grand, Casino Royale, Casino Rad, Casino Fulbari and Casino Shangri-La.
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