Why your next casino destination could be…Nepal

Plans have been revealed to turn the Himalayan nation of Nepal into a major casino hub by pumping in millions of dollars to offer access to a wide range of high-quality casino games.

An artist's impression of the Tiger Palace Resort, Nepal. Picture: Silver Heritage
An artist’s impression of the Tiger Palace Resort, Nepal. Picture: Silver Heritage

Silver Heritage is an upcoming Australian-listed company that has already set up shop in Vietnam and Laos and is in the process of building a $40 million casino resort in Nepal.

The establishment is strategically located a few kilometers from the Indian border, a move that is expected to tap the huge Indian market. The lavish resort, named Tiger Palace, is just over 300km away from Lucknow which is among the largest cities in India.

Lots of excitement

Since the announcement of the new resort project by Silver Heritage, there has been much talk of Nepal becoming the next major Asian casino hub. Some analysts are even going as far as touting the mountain kingdom as ‘the next Macau’.

Despite having a relatively low population of 29 million, Nepal has access to over 400 million Indians who reside along or close to the shared border.

In an interview with South China Morning Post, the co-founder of Silver Heritage, Tim Shepherd, mentioned that the establishment of a new resort will offer world-class casino gaming to largely untapped market. However, just like in China, gambling is largely prohibited within India apart from parts of Daman and Goa.

This means that many Indian patrons are expected to be crossing the border to gamble legally. “India is a very wealthy country. Hundreds of millions of people potentially want to gamble and so what we have done is to put a casino within their reach”, said Shepherd.

Catering to the ‘Indian style’

While Silver Heritage prepares for the opening of the five-star Tiger Palace resort in August 2017, the management is well aware of the divergent preferences of the new clientele.

It has been noted that the Indians have a unique gambling style from the Chinese. According to Shepherd: “Indians really like to drink, and like whooping and cheering, unlike what you see in Macau,” Punters of Indian origin also prefer to watch Bollywood-style shows on the casino floor.

This is unheard of in the more reserved Macau scene where it is claimed some Indian visitors often find it hard to fully enjoy their casino experience.

A boost to the economy

The new complex being built in Nepal is part of a larger plan to help spur foreign investment that is expected to have a trickle-down effect for the country’s citizens.

Silver Heritage is already running a casino in the capital city Kathmandu that targets locals as well as visitors from the northern regions of India such as Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. The small Asian nation now hopes that the enhancement of casino tourism will give the country’s economy a much needed shot in the arm.

Paving the way

The Nepalese authorities are preparing for the new wave of casino tourists by making some much needed improvements to the public infrastructure. Airports and roads that are close to the border are getting a facelift and the country’s national carrier Nepal Airlines recently relaunched direct flights between Kathmandu and Mumbai.

Is the dream too far-fetched?

Naysayers have probably written off Nepal’s ability to become a major casino hub in Asia but is their skepticism really warranted?

Macau is a good example of a destination that rose above all expectations and became a runaway success.

Prior to the entry of major gaming giants such as Wynn, the casino scene wasn’t vibrant. Once the major players moved in during the last decade the visitor numbers and revenues rose sharply. Macau is now among the elite casino locations such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Monte Carlo and ahead of those in terms of gaming revenue.

As long as diplomatic ties hold firm, casino gaming in Nepal could reach the heights of the mountains that surround it.

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