Nepal’s casino market is returning to normal, even if is moving at a slow pace. The country’s casinos were forced to close down 18 months ago – in March of last year – due to COVID-19 and have remained that way since then. However, things began to change last month as casinos were given permission to begin to reopen. Now, the recovery process begins.
Nepalese Casino Market Returning to Normal
Despite COVID-19 still being an issue in the country, Nepal has eased its travel and tourism restrictions, just like other countries have done. A seven-day quarantine requirement was lifted on September 23 and, according to the country’s Tourism Ministry, casinos were approved to reopen prior to that, as long as they adhered to certain health safety protocols.
Inbound tourism will begin to increase, but some restrictions will remain. All tourists coming from other countries will have to have received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine two weeks before arrival in order to qualify for an on-arrival visa and have free reign of the country. If they haven’t received their shots or have only received partial vaccinations, foreign tourists can still visit the country; however, they will be restricted. Instead of a visa, they will receive an “entry permit” and will have to quarantine for ten days prior to being allowed into the public.
The Road to Recovery
According to the president of the Nepal Independent Hotel, Casino & Restaurant Workers’ Union (Central Committee), Surya Bahadur, things are beginning to look up. Local media outlet The Kathmandu Post quoted him as saying, “More than half a dozen casinos, including Casino Mahjong housed at the Hotel Soaltee, Casino Pride at the Annapurna Hotel, Casino Pride at the Hyatt Regency, and Deltin Casino at the Kathmandu Marriott Hotel have already thrown open their doors to players.”
Other properties are slowly joining those, which is good news for the 15,000 casino employees who were temporarily out of work because of COVID-19. Some were given some type of salary compensation during the shutdown, but it wasn’t at the same level as what they earned pre-pandemic. Others received no compensation during the shutdown.
The casinos have also received a little bit of assistance from the government. The annual fee usually collected by Nepal from the gaming properties was waived for the previous fiscal year, which ended this past July.
Nepal still has a substantial number of COVID-19 cases, topping 800,000, but is getting better. According to the country’s health officials, the seven-day rolling average has generally declined over the past couple of weeks. The highest single-day figure during that period was 1,103 on September 24. It dropped to 574 on October 3, but yesterday saw a spike of 849.