Oct 19, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government today assured that it will not issue any new licenses to open gambling centers but will regulate the ones that had been operating in the country.
Speaking to the state run radio, Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the government has taken measures to shift all existing gambling operations which are maintaining improperly in the Colombo city into a special gambling zone.
The Minister noted that there are four gambling centers are within the Sri Lankan capital and some are close to schools and religious place. The government is planning to move them to a special gambling zone.
Rejecting the recent media reports which said that the government has issued new license to casinos as false and baseless, the Minister accused the opposition of attempting to mislead the Maha Sangha, religious dignitaries and the public by spreading false information.
Gambling centers are in existence in Sri Lanka for decades under the Gambling Act of 1988.
The Minister examined that due to the peaceful environment prevailing in the country after the end of the war, large scale foreign investors are ready to invest in various entertainment activities in Colombo.
One such investor, Australian gambling mogul James Packer's Crown Ltd. recently confirmed the plans to develop a US$ 400 million five-star mixed-resort consisting of a casino, a 450-room hotel, convention facilities, restaurants and other associated facilities in Colombo.
One of the Sri Lankan leading companies, John Keels has come forward to set up another large scale multiple entertainment complex at an investment of US$ 650 million.
However, religious leaders in Sri Lanka have objected to the government's plans to give tax concessions to the casinos that will be set up in these entertainment complexes.