Sri Lanka looks to Major Casino Resorts to solve Financial Problems
For years, Sri Lanka has rejected the idea of allowing casino resorts due to their conservative culture. But now, after two decades of civil war and a slumping economy, the island nation is very welcome to major casinos.
It’s believed that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will approve a $400 million casino in the nation’s capital of Colombo within the next few weeks. This establishment will be built by Australian gambling magnate James Packer and his Melco Crown group.
An even bigger $700 million complex that includes retail and hotels is set to be built right next to Melco’s casino. John Keels Holdings is financing this project, which is no doubt one of the largest investments ever made in Sri Lanka.
A big reason why this South Asian island is suddenly interested in casinos is because of Singapore. Since allowing mega-casinos to be built by Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Group and Malaysia-based Genting, Singapore has become a booming gambling capital. These two casinos have brought in $6 billion in annual revenue, which ranks just behind Las Vegas.
Besides the financial success, Sri Lanka also likes how Singapore has remained a family-friendly destination, unlike Vegas or Macau. Ravi Wijeratne, whose Rank Holdings company will share ownership of the Melco casino, echoed this sentiment. “We want to be a family destination, like Singapore. We don’t want to be a new Macau or Vegas – no way,” Wijeratne said.
As a cash-strapped nation which is desperate for new revenue sources, it’ll certainly be a battle for Sri Lanka to maintain a family-friendly vibe. This is especially the case when Macau-based tycoon Stanley Ho is looking to make a big investment in Sri Lanka. That said, we could see more casinos spring up in the country if the first one is a big success.