Australian casino kingpin James Packer should not be permitted to set up a casino in Sri Lanka without a valid license, in line with the Casino Business (Regulation) Act passed by the present government, an opposition legislator stated.
“Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene keeps on saying that no license has been given to operate a casino in Sri Lanka. Then isn’t the government violating the very Act they passed in Parliament?” United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian and economist Dr. Harsha de Silva queried.
Talking to journalists at a press conference held yesterday, de Silva further pointed out that this Act does not permit anyone to carry out a casino business without a valid licence.
“Then how come Minister Abeywardene is saying that the government is not granting a licence to operate casinos but the licence is for a mixed development project?” he questioned. According to section 2 (3) of the Casino Business (Regulation) Act passed by the Sri Lankan Parliament, any person who operates a casino without a valid licence shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction after a summary trial, be liable to be punished with imprisonment which shall extend to five years.
Dr. de Silva further said that Sri Lanka’s casino laws should not only be limited to regulating the casino operators but also protecting the rights of the people who patronize them.
“Let’s say that a customer went to this casino and won a sum of money. The operators can’t use thugs to assault the winner and chase him out. That also has to be regulated. Packer can’t operate the rules of the jungle here,” he noted.
However, Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene has re-iterated that his ministry cannot prevent a person who is operating a casino in Sri Lanka to re-locate his business at the entertainment and apartment complex by entering into partnership with Packer.
Meanwhile, the opposition MP emphasized the need to bring in a Casino Control Act similar to that of Australia, Singapore, Malaysia etc.
“This is the Singapore Casino Act. It has more than 100 pages and this is the Australian Casino Act. That too has more than 100 pages,” De Silva said showing copies of both the Singaporean and Australian Casino Control Acts to members of the media.At the same time, he showed the journalists gathered the Sri Lankan Casino Act which appeared to have far less number of pages compared to its Australian and Singaporean counterparts. “Sri Lanka’s law is called the Casino Business (Regulation) Act. How can you bring in a regulation without passing a law? You impose regulations in order to give effect to the law,” he said. “We need to bring in this Casino Control Act and it should include all relevant things,” de Silva added.
He stressed that it should include areas such as how to get a licence for a casino, what kind of entities can apply for a casino license, the validity period, the implications of violating this law etc.
Comments - 1
Prof.Jinadasa Tuesday, 16 July 2013 03:04 PM
Dr. de Silva has mastered the Laws on Casinos in two of the developed countries. What he had stated was theoretically correct and all must support him for his efforts extended on this business. Dr.de Silva, I Congratulate you for your untiring efforts taking along all economic aspects of the Island. I hopethat you would be the next finance minister under a UNP Government. Good luck
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