Indo-US fight over Nepal's casinos
The battle over Nepal's casino industry has intensified, with fresh violence and the spectre of a long, acrimonious lawsuit.india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 14:35 IST
The battle over Nepal's casino industry has intensified with fresh violence and the spectre of a long, acrimonious lawsuit.
Casino Royale, run by Indian entrepreneur Rakesh Wadhwa who became known as the Indian casino king after his gaming ventures in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Kazakhstan, finds itself caught in a bitter tussle between an American, who owns all the six casinos in the capital, and the Delhi businessman.
Richard D. Tuttle, said to be a former soldier who came to Nepal and grew close to the kingdom's royal family, heads Nepal Recreation Center, which runs the six casinos.
According to the contract between Tuttle and Wadhwa, the Indian runs Casino Royale as well as a second, Casino Everest, while his wife Shalini Wadhwa runs the newest gaming centre in town, Casino Shangri-la.
However, the two fell out and Tuttle demanded that Wadhwa close Casino Royale, that employs over 800 people, at 24 hours' notice. When the Indian disregarded the closure notice, Tuttle began sending people to the casino to take over forcibly.
On Friday, the peak time for flutters, about 100 people stormed into the casino and stopped all work. They also replaced Royale's gaming chips with those from another casino and insisted that the management of the gaming centre be immediately handed over.
The dispute became so fierce that a police team arrived and asked both Tuttle and Wadhwa to go to the police station.
According to industry sources, Casino Royale is mulling legal action against Tuttle. The dispute could snowball, which would affect three casinos employing over 2,000 people.
It has already caught the attention of the Indian embassy in Kathmandu with the authorities closely watching the developments.
Kathmandu's casinos are a major draw with Indian tourists, especially because of the cheap holiday packages they offer, complete with five-star accommodation, free food and sight-seeing and complimentary chips.
They bring the government millions of rupees as revenue with the royalty alone from each amounting to Nepali Rs.1200,000 per month.