Australian tycoon James Packer on Friday said he plans to pump Aus$400 million (US$384 million) into a five-star gambling resort in Sri Lanka, cashing in on the country's tourism potential.
The billionaire, who operates casinos in Melbourne, Perth and Macau and is planning a complex in Manila, said the project on the banks of Beira Lake in Colombo would create 2,500 jobs.
Sri Lanka is banking on high-end casinos to attract high-rollers and boost tourist arrivals to 2.5 million by 2016 from the current level of about a million tourists a year.
Packer said he was in detailed discussions with the Sri Lankan government and potential joint venture partners to develop the resort, which will have 450 rooms as well as restaurants, retail stores, conference facilities and gambling spaces.
"I have great confidence in the country's future and believe as a destination that it is Sri Lanka's time to shine in Asia," Packer said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.
"A Crown integrated resort would help redefine luxury tourism in Sri Lanka and play a significant role in helping to drive increased international in-bound tourism especially from India and China."
The tourism industry on the Indian Ocean island, famed for its beaches and wildlife, has boomed in the past four years after the end of a decades-long civil war in which more than 100,000 people died.
Packer said the Sri Lankan parliament and the Board of Investment were in the process of considering whether to grant investment approvals.
A Sri Lankan government spokesman, Keheliya Rambukwella, last month said the cabinet had granted the project a partial 10-year tax holiday while approving the "mixed developments", a euphemism for casino hotels. (AFP)
Adhinnada Veramani Siccapadam Samadiyami - how does one reconcile this creed to the manipulative greed of gambling? Packer, IPL, SL Cricket selections, Commissions for public servants, stealing land that rightfully belongs to the war displaced .... All birds of the same feather Alas Sri Lanka you are doomed and damned! Repent and Prosper or Rob and Be Destroyed!
raspi Friday, 18 October 2013 04:34 AM
Money can change confidence even opinions LOL
nicky karunarathna Friday, 18 October 2013 04:35 AM
Like the father like the son, Packers are great people with great attitudes. In Australia, Packers are well respected businessman helping Aussie economy immensely. Hence hope his venture into Sri Lanka business field will do the same.
Suq Madique Friday, 18 October 2013 04:57 AM
10 year tax holiday for Packer, whats in it for us? Another ill-conceived idea by our pundits?
Sam Friday, 18 October 2013 10:43 AM
Kerry Packer did not ruin Cricket. His world series was a success.
Duminda N Jayatileke Friday, 18 October 2013 05:20 AM
While more than 80% of the population live under the poverty line. This is what happens when you open a casino in a third world under developed country.
Duminda N Jayatileke Friday, 18 October 2013 05:30 AM
How do you know this Nicky living in SL? The Australian economy is the best in the world anyway.
gOBBAYA Saturday, 19 October 2013 07:22 AM
What I know is most of sri lankan people like you are very negative.
hb Friday, 18 October 2013 05:46 AM
BBS has no issues with this?
alex Friday, 18 October 2013 11:36 AM
yes . he's kerry pacxker's son
Old citizen Friday, 18 October 2013 11:50 AM
Good investment for Mr.Packer but bad investment for casino addicts.
Sandya Friday, 18 October 2013 05:56 AM
@ Suq Madique
Re: What's in it for us? Try thinking before you comment!
Sandya Friday, 18 October 2013 05:57 AM
Yes, unfortunately with pessimistic people like you, it will always be an uphill battle!
Bud Friday, 18 October 2013 05:58 AM
Every BOI venture gets a tax holiday. What's in it for Sri Lankans are jobs and revenue from tourism. Further, if James Packer has confidence in Sri Lankan economy then that will encourage other investors to invest in Sri Lanka as well.
zorro Sunday, 20 October 2013 11:55 AM
we dont need this kind of because, we do not develop any skills in this branch, why not encouraging industrial investments, they are long lasting and we will have a skilled lobor base in our country who can start up something lateron. Afterall casinos are only licensed money laundring and gang business!
R.R.Rohan Friday, 18 October 2013 12:14 PM
Good move to encourage investments, country needs to move on with times.
GC Friday, 18 October 2013 06:11 AM
This is what I too am grappling with. In addition to helping and encouraging our own people to gamble more, the casinos are going to spread a very bad message about Buddhism which our government is bound to protect under the constitution. If the casinos are good, why not sell/export the sacrificed animals to improve the economy? There should be some consistency. if they really believe in Lord Buddha's message.
Pathi Friday, 18 October 2013 06:14 AM
We liike to know the BBS's stand on this issue??
reader Friday, 18 October 2013 06:29 AM
You don't need to live in Aussie to know about what's happening there! After reading several of your comments I wonder if you are stupid or ignorant!
CHANDRAPALA Friday, 18 October 2013 12:48 PM
All have been done for the Aus$ 400 million whether the out come is good or bad.
The Fourth Horseman Friday, 18 October 2013 12:52 PM
No matter what they say Packer was packed off with a promise of a good future for him in Sri Lanka. The delay is only because there is a half hearted protest by a few from the ruling parted!!!
Ken Friday, 18 October 2013 06:53 AM
Well even the BBS knows this is what the country needs at the moment. Anyone who does not see the benefit of this investment is stupid, ignorant or does not want to see the country develop.
Nims Saturday, 19 October 2013 11:06 PM
Most people who visit the Casinos in Australia (mostly in Sydney and Melbourne) are tourists from China, Hong Kong and other parts of the World. The money spent by Aussies may be less than 10%.
Mate have a look at Universities in Australia. If not for the overseas students the Universities will not run too long. Feel the need of a JVP in Australia?
Of course, the Packers are great people and not only they contribute to the Australian economy but also the charity.
Sujeewa Friday, 18 October 2013 12:57 PM
If you are so ignorant the benefits of these kind of mega projects, it is only YOU have all the receipies to keep Sri Lankans under poverty.
thusith Friday, 18 October 2013 06:57 AM
If BBS or any one has issue of Casino operating in Sri Lanka for foreigners first of all they should come brought their plan how to boost our economy by a viable project to boost tourism and all related industries, provide jobs for needy etc. people pay no attention at their time wasting media blitz.
Deva Saturday, 19 October 2013 09:51 AM
We are for casinos ,please give one or two big Casinos to my Village Ethukala,negombo.
Flatwhite Friday, 18 October 2013 07:14 AM
2500 and more jobs of course will bring the 80% poverty line down and it needs to start some where Duminda certainly your home or the house isnot the best place to start an investment.
saman Sunday, 20 October 2013 12:18 AM
Yes Packer will pack all the bet money earned by JILMARTS to their country.All the easy earned money by politicians and their sons and so called fun makers of posh families will be diverted to Australia after distributing a little bit to supporting politicians.
Onasis Friday, 18 October 2013 01:41 PM
Those fishing in troubled waters have become mega rich. This Kerry knows
Nissanga Friday, 18 October 2013 02:08 PM
10 year tax holiday for Packer! But 125% for IT start ups and for importing IT equipment.. How can our young Sri Lankans set-up IT business & participate in economy development? Even India's IT tax rates are better than ours.. Miracle of Asia!
Roshan Sunday, 20 October 2013 02:56 AM
This investment not only by James Packer but also some other important personal from Srilanka will be shearing with him... Find that shear holders?????????????
haa hoo Sunday, 20 October 2013 02:58 AM
All comments opposing James packers investment in Sri Lanka are by small thinkers. Now think big babies we have done enough of small things. Atleast this will attract tourists. What is there for a high end entertainment seeker in SL?
Don Siman Friday, 18 October 2013 08:17 AM
Now we will have all the " three doors" (esthriya, Surawa, Sooduwa) opened as gateways to prosperity.
Suq Madique Friday, 18 October 2013 08:44 AM
Sandya, for you maybe a position as a receptionist?
mohamed asfar Monday, 21 October 2013 05:22 AM
welcome to paradise.
Jagath Leanage Friday, 18 October 2013 08:46 AM
Does he have any relationship to Kerry Packer who ruined Cricket one time?
Suq Madique Friday, 18 October 2013 08:48 AM
I'm all for foreign investors, but still why such a long tax holiday for this venture? Do all BOI ventures get the same attractive benefits? We should be attracting investors in the manufacturing and agricultural sector more than casinos.
dr ceylon Friday, 18 October 2013 02:56 PM
dont blame only gambling owner,why not blame the idiots who go to gambling and loose ?.
Somapala Friday, 18 October 2013 09:14 AM
Nicky I live in Melbourne.
Unless you are a gambler who does not care other than for fast buck, you cannot find many people in Melbourne, who agree to your following statement, "Packers are great people with great attitudes. In Australia, Packers are well respected businessman helping Aussie economy immensely"
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