Sri Lanka to establish new gaming project in coming weeks

Gambling activities in Sri Lanka
9th Apr, 2021
Simon Colmenares Author Profile Photo Simon Colmenares

Sri Lanka's Economic Commission will regulate gaming activities and license procedures in light of a $1.4bn project by the state-owned Chinese engineering firm

Local media in Sri Lanka reported that a Chinese-controlled special economic zone, to be established in Colombo Port City will soon have a regulation that will cover gaming. This draft law will be presented in parliament soon.

The development of “Sri Lanka’s new Dubai” was launched in 2014 by Sri-Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is designed to be a smaller Singapore.

It is the largest single foreign direct investment in Sri Lankan history – a $1.4bn (£1.1bn) project by the state-owned Chinese engineering firm China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

Politicians shaking hands

The city will be administered by Colombo Port City Economic Commission, with a board appointed by the President of Sri Lanka and a Director General.

The Special Zone is expected to bring a variety of investments including offshore banking to boost economic activity.

The Economic Commission will also “regulate gaming activities within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City and where required to make regulations for the management of such activities.

The commission will also determine “the attributes of gaming locations within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, and specify the manner in which gaming activities are to be carried on or be operated, and the procedure for obtaining a license and the license fees, royalties to be paid and any other related matter, as may be necessary.”

The Economic Commission will have authority to grant exemptions or incentives under The Betting and Gaming Levy Act No 40 of 1988 and Casino Business (Regulation) Act Nov 17 of 2010.

There are currently five casinos operating in Sri Lanka, four of which are located in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. However, monks and other activists opposed the setting up of new casinos linked to foreign operators a few years ago.

Sri Lanka previously raised its annual casino license fees from 200 million to 400 million rupees, as well as adding a turnover tax of 15% and an entrance fee for locals, in the year 2019.

Sri Lanka is developing quickly

The project to turn Sri Lanka into a strong and stable economic jurisdiction has been a reality since the last decade. The territory has the support of the Chinese to help it become a powerhouse where all investors will be interested in making business with.

In addition to that, the great economic push will make the land more appealing to the whole world, meaning that the tourism is set to rise to the sky in a short period of time. As seems, the Sri Lanka has gotten acquainted with all the money that gets generated within the iGaming industry.

Thanks to that, the South Asian nation is set to be the home of many top-notch gambling operators that will be able to offer its services to the citizens as well as to the people residing in other countries.

Once the project is finished, Sri Lanka will count with several in-land gambling venues as well as other iGaming platforms that will focus their functions on offering betting alternatives to each and every person interested in investing on them.

Offering services can be expensive in Sri Lanka

After having noticed how much money gets invested on gambling, the new gambling operator in Sri Lanka has raised the fees that operators must pay in order to get licensed within the nation.

Sadly, the fees could represent a huge obstacle for those new gambling operators that want to offer their betting services in the country.

For some of them, the total amount that has to be paid to get the license plus the turnover tax of 15% simply make it too difficult for them to operate their respective platforms successfully and remain on the market for a big period of time.

Additionally, due to the great investments made in Sri Lanka, many aspects that changed their prices, and it has made it hard for a lot of citizens to make ends meet on a daily basis.

Therefore, it is expected that not many operators would have a high range of active players investing and playing on their platforms.

Allowing the entrance of foreign operators can be controversial

As it was mentioned before, the fees and the daily struggle that exist for many citizens in Sri Lanka has made the new regulator come up with alternative solution to the issue.

That particular solution involves the entrance of foreign gambling operators to Sri Lanka, so they can offer their services to the citizens as well as the rest of the world.

The news was not well-received within the country, to the point where many strikes and marches were organized by the citizens themselves. They want to let the government and the gambling authority know that their decision could damage the situation in the country for many citizens.

According to them, foreign operators would be charging scandalous fees to the players without any limits since they are located in other jurisdictions. Moreover, these operators can find the way to offer their services without paying taxes because they are operating from Sri Lanka.

9th Apr, 2021
Simon Colmenares