Are Casinos Good or Bad to Sri Lanka? (part 1)
Posted on October 25th, 2013

Herold Leelawardena

‚ “If Sri Lanka is to maintain the present growth, we need to attract investments”, so sermonize minister Yapa. I do not know of anyone who would argue against it. James Packer of Crown Investment says he is bringing 400 million dollars to Sri Lanka as a part of the much needed investment. What we cannot understand is; if Packer is paying no tax whatsoever for the next 10 +3 years, pray tell us, how the government intend to earn its share from casinos. We can understand the tax reliefs for the hotel part of the business but what about the usual tax on gambling income. Does not the government lose even what it collect now? Minister Yapa who appears to be in charge of casinos must tell us.

Rajapakse Government says, it has not issued any new casino licences. It only had made all the casinos to be in one place. That is well and good. It is amazing that the government doesn-â„¢t see that it will lose whatever it has been earning from casinos to date from this haphazardly cobbled new arrangement.

For one thing, Casinos are Gambling dens. But no Casino owner likes to call it by that name. The politically correct name today is: “Gaming and Leisure establishments”. Today Casino owners cover-up their main business with the hotel industry and etc.

‚ Gambling is equivalent to mild drugs. Mild may be, but some people get addicted to it. When that happens, the social cost is immense. ‚ If a casino takes in scarce money of the locals, that would wreak havoc on the social fabric in developing countries like Sri Lanka. Remember, when similar tragedy was taking place, President Premadasa had to destroy all the one arm bandits in one night. So, one way to avoid such unfortunate consequence is to prohibit Sri Lankan from gambling in the casinos in Sri Lanka.‚ But experience gathered in other countries teaches us that the local citizens will find ways around this type of prohibition.

‚ In spite of such serious are negative effects, the governments the world over think, casinos as a way to create employment and to enlarge the tax base. This is absurd and is not necessarily true. In spite of what our minister who promote casinos say, the job creation in the casino industry are minimal. In the US casinos, most of the jobs are menial. Besides they are temporary jobs without job security and without a career plan or future. Indeed, they are dead end jobs for desperate people.

‚ Perhaps that-â„¢s why in Israel, casino game is a state monopoly and the money earned is transferred to the Government’s annual development budget and is invested in the construction of schools, community centres and clinics. Amazingly, here in Sri Lanka, the government want to let casino moguls start their business tax free and carry on for 10 +3 years.

‚ There are things that casino lobbyist like minister Yapa do not talk. For instant, though casinos seemingly generate a steady flow of high end tourists, it also generates enormous direct and indirect costs to the government. It-â„¢s no secret that all types of criminal elements tend to gather around casinos. Many of them are gambling addicts. They commit crimes in a desperate attempt to obtain funds. Needless to say then a lot of money has to be expended in the police force and other law enforcement agencies to control such nefarious activities. There is also a social cost with the breakup of families and with gambling addictions.

‚ Casino owners may promise many things but generally they don-â„¢t come true. Taking all this into consideration, it is not at all clear that casinos are a net benefit to the economy and it is almost certain that they are not a net benefactor of society as a whole. (to be continued-¦.)

‚ Leela

19 Responses to “Are Casinos Good or Bad to Sri Lanka? (part 1)”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    HEROLD !!

    I worked in two River Boat Casinos in USA, as a slot attendant. It sounds like Hospital attendant. I was paid $9.25 per hour plus our tips came to about $4.50 per hour, which aggregates to $13.75 per hour x 8 = $110.00 per day. We had full Medical Insurance. In 2003, while I was on the Boat, I had to go for two Bi-Passes, and the Medical Insurance paid a little over $40.000 on the Bill, to Our Lady of The Lake Hospital. If you call that menial, so be it. It was not a temporary Job. It was a Full Time Job. There were career plans and you could climb the ladder to Supervisor, to Manager. I know of Supervisors who reverted back to Slot attendants, because there is more money in it. For you information, no job is “menial” in USA. Everybody sits at the same table for Meals. They are not DEAD END JOBS. You appear to be clueless and very insulting. I believe you are a Sri Lankan Diplomat. That is how they think of Sri Lankans, very insultingly.

    Casinos are bad for Sri Lanka. VERY TRUE “” There is a social cost with the break up of families, and with gambling addictions “” You are very right there. Yes in some of my comments on earlier articles about Casinos, I have reflected what misery it brings.

    In Reno and Nevada~~~Las Vegas, every Hotel has Casinos in the Lobby itself. I have been to Reno Hilton many times. Everything is about gambling. Even at the Reno Airport, Gambling Machines are all over.

    President Premadasa did not destroy ‘one arm bandits ‘ in one night for the love of the Country. WRONG. Collin Fernando who was a Club Owner importing one arm bandits was a class-mate of mine at St. Joseph’s College. Premadasa was saying to everybody that he was an Old Josephian. At an Old Joes Meeting at the College Pavilion, Collin expressed loud that Premadasa was DEFINITELY NOT AN OLD JOE. This message went to Premadasas Ears. He ordered the IGP to get all Police Stations in Sri Lanka, to go to every nook and corner, collect all the one arm bandits and send it to the Government Factory in Kolonnawa, to be smashed up. For about one month, Kolonnawa Factory workers were going home with bags of coins. Collin erred in what he said. Premadasa was an old Joe, and he was known as RANASINGHE, RANAYA.
    To be continued –

  2. Nanda Says:

    Definitely no Casino’s for ordinary Sri Lankans ! That is what I think. There shouldn’t be any TAX FREE casinos for James Pucker ! He must pay taxes L


    Were the casinos’s in USA tax free ?

  3. Lorenzo Says:


    ALL gambling must be banned not just casinos.

    BIGGEST gambling agent in SL is the GOVT!!

    Govt. lotteries suck up rupees 14.7 BILLION from POOR people every year and rising 2 times every 3 years.

    But using the gambling dirty habit to RUIN the enemies of SL and foreigners is OK.

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    During our time all the Slot Machines~~one arm bandits were Coin filled, and the noise of Coins falling makes everybody put more money in. Now, if one wins, you get a ticket out of the machine, which can be presented to the cashier.
    Back to “menial ” jobs, the break room has a cafeteria, where when we give our Identity card, it is swiped and we get a first class meal with dessert. A ONE DOLLAR is charged for the Meal, and it is deducted at pay time every two weeks. The Company Director when he comes on the floor, very often he presents his card for a meal and sit with us, at the same table, with the ‘menials ‘ you refer to.

    Some clown who is promoting these Casinos, has an idea of creating a mini Las Vegas, to the very detriment of all the people of Sri Lanka. It will really affect the day to day living of Sri Lankans.

    Casino Kings are targeting Sri Lanka, because they know that all Politicians are making money, BIG TIME.

    Just my point of view. Billion Dollar Development is taking place in Sri Lanka. Tenders are granted on a reciprocal basis that percentages of Commissions are given to those responsible. These are the Ministers who profit by it, and then their Sons become Super Rich Class Carpet-Baggers, with flashy cars, which none in Sri Lanka can buy other than these Billionaires. These are the Casino Kings Targets. To water the effect, they mention about Foreigners coming into the Casinos. This is BS. The Tourists who come to Sri Lanka will visit them, but they will not throw so much money. The Super rich of the World go to Las Vegas, and will not come to Sri Lanka, just for the purpose of Gambling.
    So what do we have here. Money that should be spent on development, is partly siphoned off as commissions. These monies go to the Casino Slot Machines. The Casino Kings collect them after midnight, with no accountability to the Government. Thousands will be put into bags, counted in heavily escorted rooms and where will it go ? Your guess is good as mine. How is Government going to tax them on incomes received ? What is the Regulatory body that will look into this ? NONE
    Now the money that should be spent on development is packed by the Packers to Australia. Who is the ultimate loser ? THE POOR PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA.

  5. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:



  6. Christie Says:

    You will call me a mad man who is always against “Our Mother” India.
    India has two legally operation international casinos. One in Sikkim and one in Goa. So you can see why our suckers are hell bent against any International Casinos in Sri Lanka. There are locally operated Casinos in Sri Lanka and the gamblers have to have a foreign passport. The proposed International Casinos will be only open to foreigners. So those who cry for the poor in Sri Lanka are really those leftist who want to keep poor for ever so they do not loose their base.
    Those who are against the Casino like JHU and JVP are Indian suckers. There is plenty of gambling in Sri Lanka. People bet on horses they never see and the operators make billions of dollars. Sirimavo Bandaranayake destroyed the local racing on the instructions of a man called Mr Thaha an Indian colonial parasite. Later they fell out with her and left. He is the one who stated the so called illegal bookies that sucks off the poor of the country.
    Thgere is no secret that who fund the JVP, JHU and other Socialist and the so called nationalists are Indian colonial parasites, Indians and India.
    They are frightened of money coming to Sri Lanka that they cannot suck off. They want non Indians to go and work in the Middle East so they can suck off the poor non Indians of Sri Lanka for ever.

  7. Christie Says:

    “James Packer of Crown Investment says he is bringing 400 million dollars to Sri Lanka as a part of the much needed investment. What we cannot understand is; if Packer is paying no tax whatsoever for the next 10 +3 years, pray tell us…”
    I do not like to be personal, but a fool like me thinks; if James Packer does not bring any money to Sri Lanka he will not be paying any tax and I ma sure he will not bring any money either. The JHU run by “Gon or cunning Ganayas” who worship cows these days and the JVP who are run by Indians should educate and lead the poor or their bellowed constituents and believers (note: Buddhism is not about believing) not go near the James Packer’s Casinos. I think one of the leading JHU man is a man who has been living in Melbourne.

    Please leave my comment.

  8. Christie Says:

    Sri Lanka has gambling dens all over the country called hora bookies betting on overseas horse racing and even on cricket. These dens also sells drugs brought in by Indians and some Pakistanis. Then there are legalized ones like the Turf Accountants. The anti Casino gentlemen should open their eyes and minds and look at Sri Lanka with an open mind.

  9. Sirih Says:

    It was James late father who asked me to come to Australia and work for him and he was a formidable businessman but more of a media man and he did throw lots of money in LV and also won big as well.. His son James got rid of most media assets and heavily into gambling business these days which is unfortunate.
    Personally I find gambling can devastate any family life and have never into this either personally or professionally… I do go to LV every year for NAB, which is a biggest broadcast convention and was told it is there due 120K+ people attend globally .. But I see misery all over the place since it is poor that always trying to make money and loose everything.
    Singapore new casino does not allow locals to go there and if they do they charge S$100 per entry per person.. It says it is there to discourage but few local families lost life savings there early at the openings.
    If SL want to open a casinos for foreign high rollers then locals should be ban out right and casino revenue should be taxed at 30%-40% since it attract lots of dirty money from overseas.. There is a downside to this since local mafia will launder the money through the casino as well. Govt. need to be pro active to stop this part.
    I personally know that almost all the Indonesian dirty money is laundered through Singapore and we need separate compliance and law enforcement teams just for gambling areas to avoid corruption.

  10. aloy Says:

    Can you give just one clue as to why you say JHU is an Indian outfit?.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with Sirih.

    There was a suggestion to locate high gambling in an island off shore Lanka west. That may be more feasible than having the Casinos (if we must), on mainland Lanka.


    Some thoughts on the topic :

    Gambling brings a feverish excitement to the gambler. It is like drug addiction. Some will beg, borrow or steal to gamble. It breaks up and destroyed otherwise perfectly solid homes and families.

    Having a few cock fights and placing bets on birds, or drinking some “Raa” have been displaced by over consumption of alcohol and high gambling as the norm. We ought to go back to the good old safe times of having some fun.

    We have had a govt. Corp. boss coming one early morning to our home and requesting money (we knew he was a habitual gambler). This man was willing to loose all self respect to do this. It is destruction from within.

    Question : Why did we get rid of horse racing ?

  12. Christie Says:

    What has JHU done for the poor. poor needs meat to eat, not only parippu. They need to learn English, so they can get better jobs in the middle east. JHU worship cows like Hindus. Where do they get the money and how much money have you given them? I have had some discussion with one of the leading Gihi persons and asked him where does they get so much money. He mentioned me few Sinhalese and lots of very rich Indian colonial parasites from Pettah and Main Street. It is interesting to note that TNA, other Indian colonial parasites, JVP, UNP, all other Socialist mobs and the JHU has united against James Packer investments that will lead to more investments.
    Aloy, I am sure you can understand how rich are the Indian colonial parasites in Pettah and in Main Street. They do not want any independent foreigners to come in and form partnerships with the Sinhalese for any big venture. For example who is the local partners of Tokyo Cement. Remember why Buddarakita killed SWRD. SWRD was fully financed by the Indian colonial parasites. SWRD is the man who divided the Sinnhalese. Rajapakses are trying to unite the Sinhalese and improve their life. If JHU is so concerned they should try and educate the locals about the down side of gambling. Can you tell me who are the richest in the island. The Indians in Sri Lanka and other Indian colonies have been been funding local political parties for a long time. They take so much money from these colonies. Some one says Singapore Casino is used to launder Indonesian money. Indian colonial parasites launder the money through a method called Havalar. How did and where did Raj Rajaratnam made his billions of dollars from?

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    Re Pettah : Important to note that during the 1983 Riots, it were ONLY Sinhala/Buddhist business buildings hat got torched !
    Only poverty ridden Tamil Hindus and a few Sinhala/buddhists got killed. Draw your conclusions.

  14. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Casinos are bad. The going saying about Casino’s is “That the house always wins”. More times than not it is the house that wins leaving gambling addicts coming for more. I have personally seen this in the US city of Las Vegas where old women sit by the slot machines and in a dazed state keep putting coins in till they hit a small jackpot only to use that in a daily practice. Too many families have been ruined by gambling.

    Just years after the war the hope of the people should not be channeled into gambling joints. If Sri Lanka was a wealthy nation like Monte Carlo the impact of losing would not ruin a man or his family but Sri Lanka is not wealthy and to entertain a game that gives false promises of instant wealth would be devastating to the people of Sri Lanka.

  15. Marco Says:

    Herold has made some very valid points.
    Think we all know and much has been written about the negative (evil) effects of gambling in our society.

    I’m rather puzzled when Ministers Rambukwella & Yapa mention that Packer is bringing in $400 million “investment” into Sri Lanka. Are they saying that Packer is not going to take that capital investment back? How does one quantify the real investment in the long term of job creation, infrastructure that benefits Sri Lankans compared to the “negatives” that befall on this Casino business.
    Packer in his own press briefings and memorandums has mentioned he is targeting the 100 million wealthy Indians just two hour plane ride away, the Chinese & Middle Eastern middle classes (slightly longer plane ride) as the customer base.

    What is equally alarming is the fact that the Government was willing to give away handsome revenue streams from these “mixed use” developments that may have been invested in better social and infrastructure schemes
    The Gazette notification revealed that Packer’s Casino would be granted a 10-year income tax holiday, after which it will be charged only 6% tax for a further 12 years.

    In addition, the proposed development will also be exempted from Customs Duty, Construction Industry Guarantee Fund Levy, Port and Airport Development Levy, VAT, PAYE tax for foreign employees (for five years), Withholding Tax on foreign loan interest, and Tax on Dividends for 11 years. Gaming Revenue Tax at a small % of Profits (not Gross Revenue as the norm in all Casino taxes)

    One does not need to be an genius to say that Sri Lanka would have lost enormously, had the aborted Bill been passed in the House.

    We had the likes of Wimal Weerawansa canvassing that Sri Lankans are/should be banned from such Casinos.
    Who is he trying to kid? Thought it was the law when the first Casinos opened in 2005

  16. aloy Says:

    The facts highlighted by Christie is important. Howcome our main commodity distribution centers are controlled by Indians in Pettah. Are they funding the main political parties to remain in business and dominate our economy?. The JHU should explain their source of funding.
    Over to you Patali Champika Ranawaka and Udaya Gammanpila. If you have an iota of patriotism please prove that this allegation is false.

  17. Marco Says:

    Singapore has introduced strict and stringent Casino Control laws restricting Singaporean locals and permanent residents visiting its two Casinos. In addition to a levy of S$100 per visit or annual levy of S$2,000 it restricts the entry of “financially vulnerable” and “police record” individuals in its two casino gaming centers. This includes individuals with any police record, low income and unemployed people, receiving short to medium-term financial aid from the government, public housing tenants with arrears, bankrupts etc.

    The high rollers from mainland China and Hong Kong have been the customer base for the two Singapore Casino owners.
    Packer has made various attempts to enter the Singapore Gaming market to capture the lucrative customer base to no avail.

    Why not Sri Lanka with all the concessions thrown in to capture that very market he cannot do in Singapore.

  18. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    MR. BERNARD, !! Fully agree with you. Families will break up and the innocent children will suffer.

    I never saw anywhere that only Foreign Passport Holders will be allowed entrance, as some have mentioned. We are living in a dream world.

    Hundred Million Wealthy Indians just two hours Plane Ride away. BS. This is all sweet nothings to the year and is a Red Herring drawn across the trail. Chinese and Middle Eastern Middle Classes ? Another Red Herring.

    What fool thinks that 100 million Indians WILL FLY TO SRI LANKA FOR THE POT OF GOLD. This is a MANTRA that Puckers servile idiots have fallen for.



  19. Lorenzo Says:

    ALL GAMBLING must be stopped.

    BIGGEST gambling in SL is govt. owned LOTTERIES!!

    They suck up rupees 14.7 BILLION every year from POOR people.

    That is 250 MILLION loaves of bread.

    150 MILLION kilos of rice.

    15 MILLION kilos of seer fish.

    60 MILLION packets of milk powder.

    This bloody curse MUST be stopped in full.

    Targeted casinos to destroy Colombians and Endians in Jihad capital is OK.

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