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Gambling in Nepal

Nepalese Gambling Laws

By Reno Rollins

Gambling in Nepal is technically illegal, but this doesn’t keep the locals from engaging in a little good-natured wagering on cards and elephant polo. And while Nepali citizens are forbidden from playing in the country’s casinos, foreign tourists are more than welcome. You must be 21, however, to play in the casinos.

Facts About Nepal

Nepal is located in South Asia and is bordered by Tibet to the north and India to the south, west and east. Over 80% of the population is Hindu.

In late 2007, the interim Maoist government made Nepal a federal democratic republic on their way towards abolishing the monarchy. King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev will be the last king of the country, assuming that the ruling party wins the April 2008 elections.

Eight of the 10 highest mountains in the world are located in Nepal. Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, is also located in the country.

The national language of Nepal is Nepali. It has slowly evolved from a number of different dialects over the last 500 years.

Nepal is about the same size as England or the US state of Arkansas.

The country is divided into 14 zones. They are:

- Bagmati
- Bheri
- Dhawalagiri
- GandakI
- Janakpur
- Karnali
- Koshi
- Lumbini
- Mahakali
- Mechi
- Narayani
- Rapti
- Sagarmatha
- Seti

Nepal maintains close relationships with both China and India. Nepalese citizens may work in India without any sort of legal restrictions. Indian citizens may also travel to Nepal without having to produce a visa or passport.

The calendar year in Nepal starts in mid-April and lasts for 12 months. The official weekly holiday is Saturday. Major holidays include National Day on December 28th (birthday of the king), Prithvi Javanti on January 11th and Martyr’s Day on February 18th.

Casinos in Nepal

The first casino in the country, Casino Nepal, opened in 1968. Nepal is one of the only countries in South Asia to award licenses for casino operation. For this reason, it is a very popular tourist destination for South Asian gamblers and tourists.

In 2004, Nepal Recreation Centers, the company which runs all Nepalese casinos, made history by becoming the first land-based casino to also offer online playing services.

In September of 2005, the Tourism Industry Division under the Ministry of Culture started monitoring casinos to ensure that they were following the terms and conditions agreed upon when licenses were being awarded. After 29 years of operating casinos, the TID also prepared a draft of a bill to regulate casinos.

It was recently announced that R.D. Tuttle, the casinos king of Nepal, is planning to open a ninth casino in Hotel Malla. This is allowable, because five star hotels are able to have casinos under Nepalese law. Tuttle is an American who started in casino industry in Nepal in 1968.

Tuttle is also the head of the Nepal Recreation Centers. He was formerly assisted by his protégé, Indian businessman Rakesh Wadhwa, but the two have since had a falling out.

When the Maoist uprising removed King Gyanendra from power, they discovered how much money was being diverted into the coffers of the royal family (about 14.5 million Nepali Rs per year), and they demanded that the payments be halted. Mr. Wadwha reduced the tithe and upset the deposed king in the process. The king then pressured Tuttle to sever all ties with Wadwha.

Currently, there are eight casinos in Nepal. They are:

Casino Anna (Hotel de L’Annapurna, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours a day, this 12,000 square foot casino features 200 gaming machines and 40 table and poker games (Baccarat, Blackjack, Flush, Paplu, Poker and Roulette). There are also four restaurants on the premises, as well as a 187-room hotel. Their website is www.casinosnepal.com/casinonepal.html. For more information, call +977 1 422 8650.

Casino Everest (New Baneswor, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 29 gaming machines and 20 table games. Their website is www.casinosnepal.com/casinoeverest.html. For more information, call +977 1 478 0925. In 2006, two Indian employees of the casino were forced to flee after a Maoist affiliated trade union threatened to kill them if they did not vacate their jobs for Nepalese nationals.

Casino Nepal (Soaltee Compound, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 2,500 square feet of gaming space. It offers 60 gaming machines and 11 table and poker games (Baccarat, Roulette, Blackjack, Paplu and Poker). Two restaurants and a 317-room hotel are also located on the property. Their website is www.casinosnepal.com/casinonepal.html. For general information, call +977 1 228 650.

Casino Rad (Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 12,000 square feet of gaming space. There are 20 gaming machines and four table games (Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Pontoon and Roulette). Their website is www.casinosnepal.com/casinorad.html. For more information, call +977 1 441 1818.

Casino Royale (Durbar Marg, Hotel Yak and Yeti, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 32 gaming machines and 21 table games (Roulette, Paplu, Flush, Blackjack and Baccarat). There are also two restaurants and a 116-room hotel on the property. Their website is www.casinosnepal.com/casinoroyal.html. For more information, call +977 1 422 8481.

Casino Shangri La (Katmandu Hotel, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours, this casino has 5,000 square feet of gaming space, plus 36 gaming machines and 15 table and poker games.

Hyatt Regency Kathmandu and Tara Casino (Taragaon, Boudha, Kathmandu, Madhyamanchal, Nepal) Open 24 hours a day, this casino has 21,000 square feet of gaming space. A hotel is also located on the property. Their website is www.kathmandu.regency.hyatt.com. For more information, call +977 1 49 1234. A babysitting service is also offered, with doctors and nurses on duty 24 hours a day. There is even a special room for breast feeding mothers.

Casino Pokhara (Pokhara, Nepal) This casino offers 2,500 square feet of gaming space, as well as a 165-room hotel. Their website is www.fulbari.com. For more information, call +977 6 143 2451.

Elephant Polo in Nepal

Invented in the early 1900s, the modern game of elephant polo was invented in Meghauly, Nepal during the time that India was part of the British Empire. The first people to play were members of the English aristocracy, and this reportedly occurred after a bout of drinking.

Equipment for the game consists of a regulation polo ball and six to nine foot long bamboo sticks with a polo mallet on one end. The pitch (playing surface) is only three-quarters that of a standard polo pitch, and this is due to the slower speed of the elephants.

Each elephant is ridden by two people, and a team consists of three to four elephants per team. The elephant is steered by someone known as a mahout, while the player hits the ball and tells the mahout which way to direct the elephant. The player is secured to the elephant with a rope harness.

Mahouts are professional elephant handlers, and they will often work for years to establish a close relationship with a particular elephant. They can steer the elephant both through verbal commands and pressing behind the elephant’s ears with their feet.

Rules are similar to regular polo, except elephants are not allowed to lie down in front of the goals, kick the ball with their feet or pick up the ball with their trunk. Dung collectors are stationed nearby to keep the field clear of debris.

A game of elephant polo consists of two 10-minute chukkas with a 15-minute intermission. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins. If there is a tie, it is settled by five minutes of “sudden death.” If there’s still a tie, then a penalty shootout will occur.

The elephants are rewarded at the end of a match with a treat of either sugar cane or rice balls filled with molasses and rock salt.

The World Elephant Polo Association was formed in 1982. It now holds three international tournaments each year. One is held in Sri Lanka, another in Thailand, and the world championships are held each year in Nepal. Early events used soccer balls, but the elephants were fond of standing on the balls and squashing them.

This game is very popular in Southeast Asia due to the large elephant population. However, teams from Australia, Germany, Britain, New Zealand and Hong Kong also compete. Former world champions include Scotland (2004 and 2005) and Nepal (2006).

As you might imagine, a large amount of betting takes place during these events, and a surprising amount of money can change hands.

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