Panel urges govt to show some leniency towards casino operators


The government has been suggested to waive a certain amount of fine from the royalty dues of the casinos and extend the casino royalty submission deadline till mid-October this year to encourage the casino operators to clear royalty dues.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) had formed a five-member committee three weeks back under the leadership of Director General of the Department of Tourism (DoT) Tulasi Prasad Gautam and comprising the undersecretaries from finance ministry, labour ministry and tourism ministry to recover the casino royalty.

Submitting a report to MoCTCA recently, the committee has recommended the government to include these provisions in Fiscal Act 2015-16. The committee conducted a comprehensive study on the recovery of the casino royalty that the casinos have owed since long.

“We’ve held extensive discussions with the casinos operators and they are willing to clear their dues if the government launches some offer and extends the deadline through the Fiscal Act,” said Gautam, adding, “The report has also pointed to the prospects of the operators resuming business as per the new regulation by settling all the dues if the labour problem is sorted out.”

Even though the Fiscal Act of 2014-15 had offered the casinos to pay royalty dues of until 2014-15 by mid-October, none of the eight casinos that owe money to the government have cleared their dues. This Act had also waived the royalty amount of three months of the fiscal 2013-14 as the casinos were shut since April 19, 2014 after they failed to obtain the licence as per the new regulation.

Launched on July 22, 2013, the new regulation was not enforced until April 2014 in a bid to give additional time to all casinos to clear their dues and obtain new licence. As per the new provision, casinos need Rs 250 million as paid-up capital and submit bank guarantee of Rs 30 million to ensure royalty and Rs 20 million as licence renewal fee every fiscal.

Currently, two new casinos — Casino Mahjong and The Millionaire’s Club & Casino — are being operated as per the new regulation.

The eight casinos owe altogether Rs 671.3 million in royalty dues to the government and about Rs 300 million additional charges in interest amount and liability to their workers, according to Chandra Phuyal, director of DoT and member secretary of the panel.

The panel report has recommended the government to blacklist the casino operators if they refuse to settle the outstanding dues. MoCTCA has forwarded the suggestions to the finance ministry to incorporate its recommendation in the Fiscal Act, giving an ultimatum to the casino operators.