It has been barely 10 days that the Nepalese Government drew the curtains for the five decade old Gambling and Entertainment business of the nation calling Casinos illegal and the buzz is already that Goa Casinos will both be the cause and the beneficiary of this move. While the reason for the closure and stay order stated by the government is non compliance with the law and not paying their dues even after repeated warnings and an extended nine-month deadline. But officials in the Casino Industry in Kathmandu state the mainstay of the traffic-Indian players- now diverting to Goa casinos is also the primary reason for the ailment. While Goa casinos may be the reason for the Kathmandu casinos to suffer off late, but they will also be the biggest beneficiary if the casinos in the Himalayan Kingdom stay closed.
According to the tourism ministry, eight casinos have to pay a total of Rs 654 million in revenue, accumulated over the last seven years. Officials of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) also confirmed that the casinos owe hotels a significant amount but did not provide further details. It is learnt that the government let these casinos function despite the huge default because of the employment they were providing to the people of Nepal.
Kishor Silwal, the president of the Casino Association of Nepal made a statement to ‘MyRepublica‘ mentioning the importance of Indians, “Feud among the casino operators, the government frequent raids on casinos, and casinos top clientele — visitors from India — diverting to Goa, India, caused a slowdown in the gaming businesses.”
It is also learnt that locals who were earlier disallowed in the casinos in Kathmandu were now allowed because of the low Indian traffic. It is estimated that around 200,000 visitors come to Nepal for casinos and Indians formed a good chunk of this. With Goa casinos established in River Mandavi, the Indian tourist stopped going overseas and preferred to visit Goa to satiate their gambling appetite. Also with the influx of international casinos in markets like Macau and Philippines, the affluent few chose to travel the distance. Nepal casinos which aren’t measurable by any international standards continued to suffer since the casinos in Manila and Macau provided better facilities and an international feel.
While it is debated that this volatile casino market in Nepal will open up again considering 10’s of thousands have been rendered jobless by this move. But for how long will they be able to sustain themselves considering Goa casinos with the entry of the plush Deltin Royale Ship in River Mandavi and the combined might of the Casino Carnival into the Pride Group prove too big? If anything, the shutting down of Nepal casinos will only drive more traffic to Goa casinos since Indians who seek gambling on a budget will choose to stay within Indian shores. It is speculated that the recreational as well as the compulsive player will now turn to Goa casinos for their game since closure will bring about more uncertainty.