Millionaire politician gets approval for new resort project, but additional casino license has not been issued.
Casino operator and Secretary of Sri Lanka’s Transport Ministry Dhammika Perera has struck a deal with regulators to begin a $350 million resort project in the capital city of Colombo. Perera, who currently owns three casinos, has decided to dub the new development “Queensbury.”
Complicating matters is the fact that the government has refused to issue any additional gaming licenses for Colombo’s emerging entertainment district. This means that Perera will have to transfer the license from one his existing casinos.
The operator John Keells Holdings has also received approval for an $850 million development project, but is yet uncertain as to where it will obtain one of the country’s coveted gambling license.
Gambling legal but licenses scarce
Sri Lankan gambling laws were revised in 2010 to introduce a licensing system. The move was intended to create a regulated gambling market, thereby attracting tourist revenue. Sri Lanka’s proximity to burgeoning Asian economies such as India and China have lead many to view it as an exciting potential market.
While many international investors have expressed interest in the island, only four licensed casinos are currently in operation, three of which being owned by Perera. His casinos use names “borrowed” from famous Vegas establishments and offer Sri Lankan poker rooms along with other table games.