Sri Lanka to consider if planned casino investments meet values

Sri Lanka’s new government will review planned casino projects and won’t allow them if they are found to be against the island’s cultural and religious values, local media reported, citing investments minister Kabir Hashim.
Sri Lanka had till now sold its tourism potential based on historical places and cultural attractions, he told reporters.
“People came here to look at our rich culture,” he said, but in the last couple of years investors were trying to use the country as an entertainment destination.
“We don’t believe that Sri Lanka should be marketed in that way. These investments would be looked at very carefully.
“If there are investments that are not in line with Sri Lanka’s religious beliefs and culture then we will not – even if it means they are huge in terms of money – we will not be able to consider them,” he added.
Opposition challenger Maithripala Sirisena beat incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the island’s presidential poll earlier this month.
Rajapaksa had been seeking an unprecedented third term in the keenly contested polls, called two years before they were due.
The opposition manifesto released on December 19 said that all tax breaks given to new casino related projects, including those granted to James Packer’s Crown Resorts, will be withdrawn.
There are three multi-million projects that include casinos that have been approved by the Sri Lankan parliament in the last year.
By far the most prominent was Crown’s $400 million investment in a new casino on D R Wijewardena Mawatha street in the business heart of the capital, Colombo.
The Sri Lankan parliament gave approval for the project without a casino on April 25 last year. The project has faced severe criticism from hard-line Buddhist parties some of whom were constituents of the government.