Packer plan for SL Crown casino causes delay

28 August 2014 05:35 am - 13     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Australian gambling tycoon James Packer's Crown Ltd is facing months of new delays in building a planned $400 million Sri Lanka hotel and casino resort due to unspecified legal issues, a government minister said on Wednesday.

Packer, one of Australia's richest men, first obtained Sri Lanka cabinet approval for the project nearly a year ago. But terms of the approval were altered in the face of strong opposition from some Buddhist leaders and political parties, and construction on the project has yet to start.

"We have something to be sorted out from our legal side," Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told Reuters in a telephone interview. He declined to say exactly what the legal matter is.

"There are some legal issues from our side once they paid the necessary fees for the land," Yapa said. "We have informed them to start the construction they have also some issues. It will take another two three months (to start)."

While Sri Lanka's parliament first approved the Crown development in April 25 without a casino, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government said two weeks later it would not oppose a Crown casino if it is operated using an existing licence held by a local partner.

Packer's Sri Lankan partner, Ravi Wijeratne, who owns two casino licences was not immediately available for comments. Packer has been in discussion with Sri Lankan ministers and officials on hotel and entertainment investment options since February 2013.

Some analysts say the delay could last until the next presidential polls, which could be scheduled in January next year, as Rajapaksa seeks a third six-year term in office.

The government had earlier said casinos will be restricted to D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, the area of Colombo where Crown has planned its hotel.

However, after strong opposition, the government said it has not designated any gaming zone in the country. The government has yet to clarify which state agency is authorised to issue casino licences and regulate the industry.

Sri Lanka's parliament has separately approved two other casino resort projects planned by local investors.

A $300 million resort called Queensbury being developed by Sri Lanka's Vallibel One Plc is expected to include a casino near Packer's planned complex. Meanwhile Sri Lanka's biggest conglomerate, John Keells Holdings Plc, has committed up to $850 million for a project with a casino in another part of Colombo called the Water Front. (Reuters)

  Comments - 13

  • George Clooney Friday, 29 August 2014 02:49 AM

    More than 80% of the population is living on food parcels, the level of poverty is high and the standard of living is low in SL. What will a casino do for the poor people who live a hand to mouth existence.

    J Peiris Friday, 29 August 2014 03:26 AM

    Do personal ambitions supersede ethical and moral issues based on teachings of all religions? JTP

    Dilip Friday, 29 August 2014 03:58 AM

    Why can't he open it in Hambanthotta ?

    shamon Thursday, 28 August 2014 11:25 PM

    Why Is BBS quite on this issue via DM Android App

    CITIZEN Friday, 29 August 2014 05:36 AM

    Good question, probably no answer, or maybe they have been well looked after

    mount Thursday, 28 August 2014 01:37 PM

    All will be alright after presidential poll

    Jagath Leanage Thursday, 28 August 2014 01:12 PM

    ASSCHARYA = Casino

    ABC Thursday, 28 August 2014 01:44 PM

    What is wrong with legal casino when illegal gambling den each corner of country. National tv has daily gambling program to educate childrens too. via DM Android App

    Shirani Kolambage Friday, 29 August 2014 06:35 AM

    Sri Lanka now paradise of Casino , Heroine , Kerala Ganja, Ethanol , Massage parlour and prostitutes . Mahinda Chinthanaya is very good , young boys like these.

    mack Friday, 29 August 2014 12:42 PM

    please ban lotteries its also gambling via DM Android App

    Sim Friday, 29 August 2014 01:49 AM

    Problem is not CASINO but the extras that come with the CASINO

    Talking Nut Friday, 29 August 2014 01:53 AM

    [quote name="nl"]problem is CASINO or new old licence via DM Android App[/quote]
    Surely, PROBLEMS can be very easily sorted out on the miles and miles of HIGHWAYS !!!!

    nl Thursday, 28 August 2014 03:02 PM

    problem is CASINO or new old licence via DM Android App


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