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Macau’s VIP sector facing cash crunch

Macau’s VIP sector facing cash crunch

Macau’s VIP gaming sector is undergoing a cash crunch as customers withdraw billions of dollars in deposits due to concern about Beijing’s crackdown on capital flows for gambling purposes, Reuters reports.

New Zealand mulls lessening lockdown restrictions

In New Zealand, the government is set to announce this afternoon whether the country will come out of a strict Level Four lockdown.  The change,...

NSW to restrict pokies

New South Wales has become the latest Australian state to propose restrictions to the number of pokies in pubs and clubs. According to new laws...

Casino entry capped at three times per week

According to a report widely broadcast in the national media on Wednesday evening, the government was gravitating toward a plan that would allow Japanese...

Church group opposes Singapore online gambling move

Singapore’s National Council of Churches has criticized the government’s decision to ease an online gambling ban, saying it is sending “confusing and conflicting signals.” The...

Casinos to benefit as China visa walls crumble

As China’s outbound tourism market continues to balloon, a growing number of destinations are easing visa requirements to woo the mainland traveller, with casinos in those countries likely to be among the key beneficiaries. With research suggesting that most Chinese overseas tourists will visit a casino, relaxed visa restrictions could be a key driver for GGR.  

Nepal casino industry stirs, but local operators continue push for change

Nepal’s casino industry is showing signs of life after shutting down for nearly a year for failing to comply with new regulations, but the recent opening of two foreign-funded ventures may be masking continuing underlying problems. In early February, Hong Kong-based Silver Heritage Limited (SHL) opened The Millionaire’s Club & Casino at the five-star Hotel Shangri-La in Kathmandu, becoming the first casino to come under Nepal’s new gaming regulations, while India’s Mahjong Entertainment, which operates Casino Mahjong at the five-star Hotel Soaltee in Kathmandu followed suit, opening its doors to gamblers on February 6. However, local operators continue to lobby the government for further concessions on the new gaming law, while state officials remain adamant that they will give no further ground. They also fear the reopening of the casinos may prompt the government to backtrack on agreed amendments. “Since the two casinos reopened after complying with the new regulations, the issue of amendments has become uncertain because the government would cite the development in order to force us to come under the regulation,” said Amba Datta Bhatta, the executive director of Casino Association of Nepal (CAN). “At the moment, there’s confusion among operators. Some say they could push the government for amendments in the regulation while others have argued that it’s a lost cause,” he said. According to the new rules, which came into effect in July 2013, Nepal’s casinos were required to have paid-up capital of at least 250 million rupees ($2.6 million), with the minimum set at 150 million rupees for slot parlours, known here as mini-casinos. A new annual license fee, to be paid to the tourism ministry, was set at 20 million rupees for casinos and 10 million rupees for mini-casinos. Similarly, the annual royalty fee, paid to the inland revenue department, was doubled to 40 million rupees for casinos and set at 20 million rupees for mini-casinos and was made payable in advance rather than in arrears. Despite several extensions of a deadline for the casinos to come under the new regulatory regime, the operators failed to meet the requirements. After the dramatic shutdown in April last year, operators, unions and employees began to put pressure on the tourism ministry to revise the rules. As a result, in July, the new government slashed the annual royalties by 10 million rupees for both casinos and mini casinos. On January 5, a delegation comprising both casino operators and union members handed a memorandum to the Tourism Ministry, urging it to ensure that the employees receive their salary, allowances, gratuity, and provident funds, among others. “The new regulations failed to make guarantees on these issues. We request the government to ensure it before allowing the casinos to operate business,” the appeal noted. The delegation also demanded that the 25 percent windfall tax imposed on gamblers be removed. “No country has such provisions. And it will not help attract tourists and gamblers in Nepal. Therefore, we demand that the provision should be revoked,” the letter read. However, Tulasi Prasad Gautam, the director general of the Department of Tourism, told AGB further amendments to the regulation were unlikely. “The government is not going to amend the regulation. We have already made necessary amendments. The two casinos that applied for new license are a proof that it’s possible to comply with the new rules,” he said. “The remaining casinos owe huge amount of outstanding taxes and royalties to the government. If they really want to be part of the industry, they should have guts to raise the money to come under new rules,” he said. Gautam called the operators’ claim that the new rules were discouraging them from investing in the business as baseless. “Past experiences show that casino operators quit their business halfway, leaving their employees to fend for themselves. So the government has to take care of them. That’s why we hiked taxes and royalties,” he said. Kumar Shrestha, the operations manager at Casino Anna, agreed the industry was still dogged by numerous problems. “There are several mini casinos and one casino in Kathmandu (Casino Royale) that have started operations based on the Supreme Court stay order, which by nature is an interim measure. So this is nothing short of taking advantage of legal loopholes,” he told AGB. Shrestha cited the example of Casino Anna’s ownership, which is jointly held by Tapta Bahadur Bista and Kalpadeep Rai. “The operators haven’t paid tax for up to 10 years. How will new owners be interested in such a venture? And the license holders seem unable to revive it,” he said adding that as a last ditch attempt, the operators had filed a petition at the Supreme Court, requesting a stay order to open. “But the court declined to issue the order,” he said. The government’s controlling mechanism is very weak, Shrestha said adding: “I don’t think that our government is capable of sending manpower to check the business.” Shrestha said as the country now had an elected legislature, a new act should be approved by the parliament. “If we have an act, it will not have such loopholes and the legal basis would also be strong. Bhatta of CAN said the employees have begun to put pressure on the remaining casinos to open. “Unlike in Sri Lanka, where there’s pressure from the Buddhist clergy not to expand casinos, Nepal is well placed as there are no such resistance. Our history is also decades-long. But political instability and political interference has prevented us from making strides in this sector,” he told AGB. But government officials like Gautam argue for limiting the number of casinos, saying that 10 casinos were too many for Nepal. “The two that have resumed operations would cater to some of the clientele. I don’t think we need that many casinos. I think 4 or 5 casinos would be enough for a country like Nepal,” he said. India’s Delta Corp may also be interested in investing in Nepal and has registered with the Department of Industry, though hasn’t yet applied for a casino license. However, industry insiders have expressed doubt on how much foreign investor interest there is likely to be until the current problems are fully resolved. The Millionaire’s Club & Casino is part of the Silver Heritage group’s $100 million investment drive in Nepal via Happy World, its joint venture with a Nepali businessman, aimed at providing gaming services to the growing Indian and Chinese market. The casino has 22 live gaming tables and 40 electronic gaming machines. The gaming company is also investing in a five-star resort in the southern town of Bhairahawa, near the birthplace of Lord Buddha, a popular destination among tourists from China, Japan and Sri Lanka. Until its closure due to labour unrest in 2010, the casino at the five-star Hotel Shangri-La was operated by an affiliate of Widetech (Malaysia) Bhd.  

Singapore begins blocking access to overseas sites

Singapore has begun to implement its draconian ban on online gambling, blocking access to overseas gambling websites.  The Remote Gambling Act passed through parliament in...

Melco says foreigner-only policy a deterrent in South Korea

Melco Crown Entertainment co-chairman Lawrence Ho said South Korea’s policy of restricting access to locals means the company is not placing a high priority...

Singapore to block remote gambling websites

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in Singapore has announced that all websites that provide or promote online gambling will be blocked when the...
Solid Gaming

Knowledge trumps content in Asia’s complex i-gaming world

In Asia’s complex and diverse igaming landscape, having the right content means business success only if one more key ingredient is included - market knowledge. 

Instant and secure deposits

AstroPay is the pioneer payment solution for thousands of consumers in Latin America, Asia and Africa, who want to purchase online on international sites, that helps merchants access new markets through its main product, AstroPay Card.

Australian market report: How to adapt to the new normal

Covid-19 forced the rapid and unexpected closure of venues across Australia, changing the operating environment with unprecedented speed and leaving managers scrambling to adapt...

Life After POGOs – AGB Pop-Up Forum

The Philippines and Asia's online gaming industry is going through uncertain times, with the gaming regulator seeing more and more operators leaving the country for greener pastures.
AGB Webinar Attracting Players, Not Fraudsters

Attracting players, not fraudsters

With sports betting restarting we are now seeing traffic levels return to pre-COVID levels. The same is unfortunately true for fraudulent activities as operators tempt players, both new and existing, with lucrative bonuses and attractive game offerings.
Winning The Future Chinese Tourist

Winning the Chinese Tourist & China Tourism Blacklist

The AGB Webinar hears from Professor Wolfgang Arlt of COTRI, Shirley Tam of Okada Manila and Desmond Lam of UMAC to discuss future expectations...
gaming webinar south korea

South Korea Casino Recovery

The fifth edition of the AGB Webinar Series will take you to South Korea, one of the first countries to reopen their gaming industry...

Betting on Sports America

SBC Awards 2020

Sigma Malta Show

SIGMA Malta

Sigma Malta Show

SIGMA Manila

news, macau, gambling

Asia Gaming Briefings – Nov 2020 Edition

While nowhere in the world has escaped the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis, Macau has been hit harder than most, with forecasts for gross domestic product to shrink more than 50 percent this year.
asia gaming briefings OCT 20

Asia Gaming Briefings – Oct 2020 Edition

Before the Covid-19 crisis, tourism in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region was at a record high, on track to welcome 80 million visitors in 2019, generating some $90 billion in revenue.
asia gaming briefings Sep 20

Asia Gaming Briefings – Sep 2020 Edition

IN FOCUS: SPORTS BETTING Ball games bounce back. Major sporting events are slowly ramping up around the world and with them the drama and surprises, not all of them good for sports betting operators.