Sri Lankan Government Approves 3 Casino Projects
The Sri Lankan government has approved the development of three controversial casino projects.The government gave the go-ahead to a $350 million casino resort being planned by James Packer. It has also approved a $650 million casino project by local conglomerate John Keells Holdings as well as a $300 million gaming facility proposed by Sri Lankan tycoon Dhammika Perera.
All three projects are mixed developments that would include hotels, casinos and a number of other facilities. While the projects were approved, there has been severe criticism of the Sri Lankan government for even considering allowing large casinos to be built.
The country passed a bill in 2010 to regulate the gambling industry in a move to try and increase tourism. While speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo last month, James Packer said that his project would help Sri Lanka become “a leading tourist mecca for the rising middle class of India, China and the rest of Asia.”
There are already a number of Asian countries, such as Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia, which are using gambling to boost tourism. Sri Lanka hopes to receive 2.5 million tourists annually by 2016.