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Gambling in Sri Lanka

Gambling came to Sri Lanka, in a legal, regulated form in 2010 when a bill was passed giving the national government complete jurisdiction over gambling licenses. According to the new set of laws, existing operators were given until February 2013 to obtain a license or cease operations. Anyone caught offering gambling services without a license can be subject to up to five years in prison.

The legal revisions were intended to boost tourism in the country after decades of civil war. The industry is heavily regulated, and gambling is not permitted near religious temples, schools and densely populated areas. In addition, the activity is taxed heavily, providing revenue to the state.

Sri Lanka's proximity to India gives it potential as a major destination for tourists interested in gambling. As India has stringent gaming laws which deter foreign investment, many international companies now look to Sri Lanka as a place to serve Indian gamblers.

There are currently four licensed land-based casinos in Sri Lanka, each of which uses a name "borrowed" from a famous Vegas casino: Bally's, MGM, Bellagio, and Stardust. All four are located in the capital, Colombo.

Online Gambling in Sri Lanka

While gambling is popular in Sri Lanka, the country has a low rate of internet penetration, so most gamblers use land-based providers. In addition, there are currently no legal, licensed online betting providers.

Sri Lankan gamblers can use foreign-based online casinos and sportsbooks. However, there are none which accept Sri Lankan rupees or offer services in the islands two main languages: Tamil and Sinhalese. In short, online gambling options are slim.