Casino Royale operating without valid licence

Friday, September 28th, 2018 | | National

Casino Royale at the Hotel Yak and Yeti is the only gaming house still operating under a Supreme Court order without paying taxes and renewing its operating licence, as two other holdouts, Casino Venus at the Malla Hotel and Casino Rad at the Radisson Hotel, have paid their outstanding dues, Tourism Department officials said.

According to the department, Casino Rad operated by Kishore Silwal, Kausal Silwal and Usha Thapa Silwal under Rock International has deposited Rs40 million in back taxes of two years, which does not include penalties, out of the Rs73.3 million it owes the government. Rock International has asked the government to consider the taxes and dues of two years stating that it did not operate the casino from 2014 to 2016, officials said.

In April 2014, the government shut down all casinos not adhering to the Casino Regulation 2013 and scrapped the licences of those defaulting on royalties. But three casinos—Royale, Venus and Rad—continued to operate taking advantage of a Supreme Court interim order allowing them to remain open. The owners of Casino Rad have been operating the casino under the court ruling since May 2016.

“Casino Rad has deposited outstanding royalties and taxes into the government’s account, but we have not accepted the money as the amount needs to be assessed properly,” said an official who did not wish to be named.

“In response to Rad’s willingness to operate under the new regulations, we have asked them to withdraw the case from the Supreme Court and apply for a new licence,” he said. If the casino applies for a new licence, it has to pay an additional Rs40 million in royalty for this fiscal year.

“Considering the casino’s claim that it remained closed for two years and hence is not liable to pay royalties and taxes of that period, the government will reach a decision on the matter.”

Casino Venus at the Malla Hotel has withdrawn its case from the Supreme Court and settled all its casino dues including licence renewal fees totalling Rs140 million. The casino is now being operated by Bally’s Nepal with Sri Lankan investment.

Casino Royale, housed at the Hotel Yak and Yeti and run by Surendra Bahadur Singh under Gilt Investment, has been operating under the old regulation since the Supreme Court issued the interim order on March 28, 2016, and owes Rs118.2 million in unpaid taxes until that period.

“Its unpaid royalties and taxes have accumulated to Rs320 million,” said department officials.

Singh has sold his company Gilt Investment to an Indian investor Ashish Bhai Patel who has agreed to settle all the company’s outstanding dues, sources said.

The Indian investor recently asked the Tourism Department about the dues the company needs to pay the government, sources said.

Four casinos renew licences

Four of the six casinos operating under the Casino Regulation 2013 have renewed their operating licences for this fiscal year by paying Rs50 million each, the Department of Tourism said.

The four casinos are Tiger Palace Casino in Bhairahawa and the Millionaire’s Club and Casino at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kathmandu operated by the Silver Heritage Group, Casino Pride housed at the Hyatt Regency and Bally’s Casino housed at the Hotel Malla.

Department officials said that they were in the process of renewing the licences of two other casinos—Casino Mahjong housed at the Hotel Soaltee and Casino Palace housed at the Hotel Annapurna. Three casinos—Casino Fulbari and Casino Grand in Pokhara and Casino Everest–have shut down. The Financial Act has hiked the annual casino royalty to Rs40 million from this fiscal year. Licences are issued to casinos housed in five-star hotels only.

The latest entrant is the five-star casino property Tiger Palace Resort in Bhairahawa. (PR)