International edition
September 21, 2020

The government hopes to increase tourist figures to 1 million

Sri Lanka legalizes casinos

(Sri Lanka).- Sri Lanka’s parliament passed a law yesterday, allowing the establishment of gambling zones housing casinos to boost its tourism industry - a major shift from the conservative country's prohibition of organised betting. The law allowing gambling received 114 votes in favour and 33 against in parliament.

T

he Gaming Special Provisions Bill will “provide for the designation of areas in which persons interested to start the business of gaming can set up their establishments,” according to the legislature’s website.

The move may attract casino developers eager to profit from tourists flocking to the island after the end of its civil war. Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said: "Through this bill, the government intends to set up special zones for gaming in areas not close to temples, schools and highly populated areas". He added that the government hopes to increase tourist figures to 1 million per year from the current 700,000.

Billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Delta Corp. said October 4 that it plans to open casinos in Sri Lanka in the next six months to tap a surge in visitors after the end of the nation’s 26-year war with Tamil rebels. Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 44 % in the first nine months of the year, according to the nation’s tourism agency.

Dayasiri Jayadekara, a lawmaker for main the opposition United National Party, said the promotion of gambling will destroy the country's traditional values.

Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation in South Asia and presents itself as a conservative society. The government bans alcohol consumption in public places, and censors kissing and alcohol-consumption scenes on television.

Sri Lanka’s us$ 42 billion economy may grow as much as 8 % in 2010, the central bank said on September 21. The nation’s troops defeated the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May last year, ending their quest for a separate homeland.

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