The Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Committee on Public Finance (COPF), MP Dr. Harsha de Silva, has called for a casino regulatory authority to be “immediately” established if licenses are to be granted for the operation of casinos within the territory.
De Silva called for the introduction of the new regulator while addressing the parliament on Monday. The parliamentarian emphasized that the COPF has not granted approval for regulations under the Casino Business (Regulation) Act since the relevant bill is being brought for the first time to license and regulate casinos, reports adaderana.lk.
“No casino licenses are granted without a casino regulatory body in any country in the world,” de Silva pointed out. The MP also highlighted that it is “important” to inform the committee at least roughly regarding when the relevant regulatory authority will be brought in.
The matter was also taken up when the COPF met recently, and the members of the Committee were of the opinion that it would be best to consider the approval after “making it more effective for the development of the country,” the President’s Media Division has reported.
In July, Sri Lanka’s government agreed to issue new licenses, noting that 2010’s casino law required them, but that none had been issued. Officials said that there are no provisions to operate casinos, apart from the tax paid to the Inland Revenue Department, and as a preliminary step have taken measures to issue these licenses, further reports the cited source.
Aerial view of Colombo Currently, four casinos operate in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. Discussions were held in the committee related to the fact that there is no clear understanding of whether casino businesses are paying the relevant taxes, how much tax has been collected by the government, and whether there is proper regulation for the existing casino businesses.
Latest estimates point out that some $7.4 million in taxes are owed, and a casino oversight body could help make the situation clearer. According to September reports, the regularization of gambling in Sri Lanka would include licenses of up to 20-years, with a five-year renewable license costing $1.36 million. Businesses would be allowed to apply for a license in multiples of five years, with fees paid up-front.
The calls for regulation come after casino mogul Dhammika Perera, who operates three of the four casino licenses in the nation, became the country’s finance minister. They also come amid a push to improve the country’s struggling economy, after Sri Lanka defaulted on $51 billion in international debt.
Latest reports also indicate that a recently opened communications tower in Colombo could soon house a casino as part of an agreement to operate a comprehensive entertainment area across one floor of the building. Lotus Tower Management Company (LTMC) would receive $1.4 million a year after signing an agreement with Singapore’s Kreate Design to operate the facility at Colombo’s Lotus Tower.