- Govt. issues Gazette to legalise and regulate casinos
- New legislation effective 1 Sept. clearly outlines procedure for application for licence or renewal, matters to be considered in evaluation of an application or cancellation
- Opens doors for top new global operators
- Big boon for Sri Lanka becoming tourism, leisure and entertainment hub in South Asia
- Fee for 5-year licence or renewal is Rs. 500 m; licence for maximum of 20 years must be paid upfront
|Minister can also consider the contribution that such a casino gaming business is likely to attribute to the national economy, the importance of the casino gaming business to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and other financial or non-financial benefits that are likely to accrue to Sri Lanka
By Nisthar Cassim
The Government has gazet-ted new legislation to finally legalise and regulate casinos as well as pave the way for new entrants if they qualify for a licence to operate.Tourism, leisure and entertainment industry analysts welcomed the move, saying legality gives more credence to existing businesses and those who may be keen to set up operations. At present there are only two operators and gaming business is among the most taxed in Sri Lanka.
Top blue-chip John Keells Holdings PLC’s (JKH) near $ 1 billion worth Cinnamon Life has been long touted to open its facility for a global operator whilst Port City too has interests for the same, all as part of making Colombo an entertainment and leisure hub in South Asia. Majority of tourists from India, Sri Lanka’s biggest source market as well as from China during pre-COVID, are attracted to the gaming opportunities in Colombo.
The new legislation also brings Sri Lanka on par with jurisdictions where casinos are legal.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies authorised the Casino Business (Regulation) Act No. 17 of 2010 recently and declared that the order will come into force from 1 September. These Regulations are cited as the Casino Business Licensing Regulation No. 1 of 2022.
The new law clearly outlines the procedure for application for a licence or for the renewal of a licence, matters to be considered in evaluation of an application, licence fee, the grant of licence or its cancellation or surrender; obligations of the licence holder including the appointment of compliance officers, conduct within the casino and restrictions as well as proper keeping of books, accounts, audits and gaming and other records. New legislation also covers employers and employees.
Under matters to be considered in evaluating an application includes whether the applicant for or renewing a licence possess a sound and stable financial background or resources that are adequate to ensure the financial viability of the casino gaming business and whether the application, its shareholders or sponsors have ownership of control of assets or financial resources that are adequate.
The Minister can also consider the contribution that such casino gaming business is likely to attribute to the national economy, the importance of the casino gaming business to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and other financial or non-financial benefits that are likely to accrue to Sri Lanka.
As per the new regulations, the Minister may refuse an application for a licence or for the renewal of a licence (a) which is incomplete; b) which is not made in accordance with this regulation; or (c) where an investigation or inquiry under sub regulation (4) of this regulation in relation to the application is refused by the applicant.
The fee for a licence or for the renewal of licence for a period of five years or any part thereof is Rs. 500 million. In the event the period applied for in the licence is for multiples of five years which shall not exceed 20 years, the relevant licence fee for such entire period should be payable upfront.