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Sri Lanka opposition to stop JKH, Packer casinos

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena has threatened to cancel two ‘casino licences’ given to John Keells Holdings and Australian casino king James Packer.

"I will not allow the two casino licences given to ‘Water Front’ and ‘Lake Leisure’ projects contrary to certain decisions of Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers and despite the opposition of the Chief Prelates of all three Buddhist Sects," Sirisena said in his election manifesto released Friday.

A study will be made of tax concessions given to projects under the government’s Strategic Development Projects Act, it said.

Projects under the Strategic Development Projects Act get a range of tax holidays and other benefits.

The casinos are part of two big high-rise property development projects JKH and Packer plan that include hotels, apartments, offices and malls.

JKH has already started work on its ‘Water Front’ property project while land has been set aside in Colombo’s business district for Packer’s project. 

No mention was made in the manifesto of a third project by transport secretary and entrepreneur Dhammika Perera, which was also given sweeping tax breaks.

JKH is widely expected to rent space to a gaming operator. Packer’s local partner, and Perera’s group have de facto licenses which are used to run casinos in Colombo. No regulations have been brought to issue formal licenses to casinos.

Update II

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