Tourism and casino operators in the mountainous Asian nation of Nepal have reportedly expressed disappointment at an apparent government move to scrap proposed bespoke legislation that would have governed the licensing and running of local casinos.

New regulations were due to be on their way:

According to a Wednesday report from The Kathmandu Post newspaper, Nepalese officials announced in June that they were planning to submit the draft Casino Bill 2018 to cabinet amid hopes that the small nation’s close proximity to China and India could see it become the planet’s next gambling hotspot.

Fresh legislation unexpectedly disappeared:

However, the newspaper reported that this legislation never appeared while the government’s Tourism Ministry instead recently expressed its desire to insert new rules designed to streamline the casino industry and encourage fresh investment into the coming Tourism Act 2018.

Secretary for Nepal’s Tourism Ministry, Krishna Prasad Devkota, to The Kathmandu Post…

“We will bring the Casino Act but not separately. We are currently discussing the issue. As per the plan, the casino law will come out as an annex to the Tourism Act that the government is currently drafting.”

Law Ministry unaware of reasons:

The newspaper reported that Nepal’s Law Ministry had earlier approved a preliminary draft of the Casino Act 2018 but was now unaware of the reasons behind the legislation’s rumored cancellation.

An anonymous source from the Law Ministry to The Kathmandu Post…

“As the [Tourism] Ministry wants to integrate the casino law into the new Tourism Act 2018, the plan to enact a separate piece of legislation may have been cancelled.”

Shoe-horned measures may prove too weak:

The Kathmandu Post reported that the government’s apparent about-face has sparked worries that any new gaming legislation inserted into the Tourism Act 2018 may prove to be too weak to address potential risks and attract foreign investment.

The Nepalese casino industry is currently policed under legislation known as the Casino Regulation 2013 but this was reportedly hijacked by a recent Supreme Court ruling that seemingly allows some casinos to operate without paying the appropriate level of tax.

The newspaper detailed that this has led to the impoverished nation currently being owed around $11.33 million in aggregate duties from several casinos including Kathmandu’s Casino Royale and Casino Rad.

An anonymous source from the Tourism Ministry to The Kathmandu Post…

“The most complicated matter for the department is that it cannot collect taxes and royalties as it has scrapped their licenses. In a legal sense, the casinos are operating unlawfully but we have to honor the court’s ruling.”