Many people know Nepal to be the birthplace of Buddhism’s founder, the location of the tallest peak, Mt. Everest, and the beauty that consists of rolling hills and mountains in the Himalayas. But did you know that Nepal also has a history in the gaming industry?
The history of the gaming industry in Nepal dates back to 1968 when the first casino broke ground. Although there were many challenges along the way, this and other casinos in the area still exist today.
To discover more about the history of the gaming industry in Nepal, you can either do some internet research or go participate in the fun yourself. Keep reading to learn more about the history and current status of casinos and gaming in Nepal.
History of Gaming in Nepal
The very first casino in Nepal opened its doors in Kathmandu in 1968. Casino Nepal, now known as Casino Mahjong, was the first of its kind to open in the entire South Asia region. Because of this, many tourists and residents from neighboring countries flocked to Nepal.
What you might find interesting about the casino industry in Nepal is that it is actually illegal for any resident of the country to participate in gambling. For this reason, they are not allowed to enter the walls of a casino. Therefore, the casino industry must rely heavily on tourists for their profits.
Although gambling is illegal for locals in Nepal, many have found ways around this. For some, establishing underground gambling seemed like a perfect way around the local laws. Despite the many attempts to shut down these establishments, many of them still exist today.
Even though the government tried several times to shut down casinos in Nepal, owners would discover different ways to ensure they could reopen. Some of these shutdowns came from not following the regulations set in many of the guidelines that were set. From regulation violations, to earthquakes, and blockades on the Indian border, many of these casinos in Nepal faced obstacles in remaining open. Most of these were able to bounce back and re-establish their place in the gaming industry but some, of course, failed.
The changes in regulations that came with the Gambling Act of 1977 in Nepal enforced the requirement of a license to run a gambling establishment. In addition to the licensing requirements, this law also banned local residents from gambling within its borders.
For those who own casinos in Nepal, it has been an uphill battle. This is because even more requirements came into play with the passing of the Casino Regulations in 2013. There were many establishments that were shut down due to non-compliance and non-payment of specific dues and fees outlined in the regulations.
Although the regulations have been amended and altered over the years, many things have not changed. If you are a resident of Nepal, it is still deemed illegal to participate in any gambling activity. The consequence of doing so is a hefty fine for the first offense and jail time for subsequent offenses.
Tourist Advantages to the Gaming Industry in Nepal
Despite the strict regulations to the gaming industry in Nepal, there are many advantages to the existence of casinos in the country. Since gambling is restricted to only tourists, the push for casinos is to bring in as many as possible. This is not only a good thing for casinos, but for the country's economy as well.
Since Nepal is one of the only countries in South Asia to have casinos, many residents of surrounding countries flock in to participate in gambling activities. Many people who live in India, which borders Nepal on one side, make regular visits to the casinos to fulfill their desire to gamble. Residents of India make up the majority of the tourists who come to Nepal regularly.
China, which also borders Nepal, makes up the second-largest tourist population that comes to gamble in the casinos regularly. Since much of China has made gambling illegal, traveling the short distance to Nepal has become a regular trip for many Chinese residents.
Online Gambling in Nepal
When it comes to online gambling, there are not any specific laws that regulate the practice. Because of this, many Nepalese residents have been known to participate in online gambling. Without the regulation, law enforcement cannot really police this area. This makes it easy for the residents to plan in online casinos if they so choose.
The biggest barrier to online gambling is access to the internet. With about a third of the country having stable internet access, online options have not been widely available. Although for many, there are internet cafes all over the country that offer access for those who do not have it at home.
Gaming Industry in Nepal Today
The gaming industry in Nepal has not changed a whole lot since the first casino opened its doors. In 2020, the government in Nepal set out to clarify several parts of the Gambling Act that was put in place when casinos first came on the scene. The clarification did not change the law, but instead, outlined more specific details of the restrictions and consequences of gambling for Nepalese citizens.
Additionally, online gambling is still not regulated and many Nepalese residents participate in online sportsbooks and other means of betting online regularly. Although there are no licenses available for casinos to offer online betting, many citizens do so from the comfort of their homes or internet cafes.
Nepal’s Gaming Industry and COVID-19
Since the shutdown in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the biggest question has been when regulations would be lifted to allow businesses to go back to “normal.” In recent months, after almost 18 months of being compltely closed, the restrictions have finally begun to be lifted.
Even though COVID-19 is still in existence, new guidelines have been put in place to ensure the safety of everyone. Many of these guidelines replaced the previous restrictions because of the widespread vaccinations being administered. If tourists have had their second dose of the vaccine, they are no longer on a restriction to quarantine upon arriving in Nepal.
For those traveling who have not received the vaccine, there are still quarantine restrictions in place. The guidelines specifically outline that these tourists will be required to quarantine for ten days before being allowed to be with the public.
Overall, if you are interested in gambling in Nepal, and are not a Nepalese resident, it is perfectly legal for you to do so. However, if you live in the country, keep in mind that it is illegal for you to even enter a casino. And as always, remember that gambling of any kind is a game of chance, and if you choose to participate, that you are doing so at your own risk and you could lose any money that you choose to bet.