Ever since Las Vegas Sands’ Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson expressed his desire to have a beach head in India, speculations are rife that this might spell a bounty for the island nation that lies southward of the country. This is in the wake of the realization that Adelson never heard back from the concerned authorities in India, arising out of the country’s stringent laws on gambling. The same had happened in 2008, and probably that is the reason that all roads point southwards.
Why Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka’s favorable geographical location gives it an instant nod to avail the potential and economic growth that could have beckoned India. Opportunely situated within 4 hours flight of India’s most happening cities, Sri Lanka is full of exuberance and hue and is being conjectured as an excellent market for the casino enthusiastic. Not only chances, but the end of a dense political turmoil, the civil war bodes well for the island nation. Since the recent boom in tourism and foreign investment, markets are constantly looking to bask in the glory. The casino industry and the Las Vegas success story are looking for a repeat here. In the form of economies like Singapore, Malaysia, and the Asian casino hotspot of Macau, South East Asia is already a phenomenal success in the casino industry.
A Fostering Environment Already
The environment for the establishment of a casino industry in Sri Lanka is inviting. The capital city of Colombo has a few small casino establishments and extends services to locals and tourists alike. Having legalized gambling in 2010, the authorities hope to lap up any plans of establishments from around the world. News is that the Lankan government granted approval to a US$850 million project for mixed development, very possibly indicating that entertainment hubs, including casinos, might be underway in more parts of the country.
Australian gaming tycoon James Packer too, was given a thumbs up to build a US$350 million lakeside resort in Colombo. The icing on the cake is that both these have been given major tax exemptions. However, this cannot be held to be an abrupt wielding of diplomacy, since minor casinos have anyway been running in the country long before they were legalized, by exploitation of minor gaps in the law.
Tourism income is set to rise to 5.0% from the earlier reported 1.0% and big casino establishments are ready to garner a huge pool of punters not only from India, but all of the Middle East and South-East Asia. Although at the moment, the government has gifted these projects with a huge relief in tax, it is contemplating at a balanced policy of tax reduction. This might prove to be another reason for the state to rejoice.
Although it is too early to expect the gaming industry in Sri Lanka to be as splendid and glamorous as the pulsating and festive casino revolution in Las Vegas and Macau, but it sure can be deemed as the Asian giant in the years to come. The prospects that casino culture is bringing to Sri Lanka are way too bright to be concerned about fundamentalist forces. The turbulence of the civil war has had Sri Lanka seething with angst. The legalization of gambling and the embracing of the casino industry can create fresh sources of revenue not only for the government, but also for funding philanthropic causes, in addition to providing employment to a certain section of the population.