The Sri Lankan government has recently made a bold move by announcing a significant increase in annual license fees and taxes for casinos. This announcement was made by the country’s finance minister, Mangala Samaraweera, during the presentation of the annual budget in parliament.
The new measures include a drastic hike in the annual license fees for casinos, which has been doubled from 200 million Sri Lankan rupees to 400 million Sri Lankan rupees. Additionally, the government will also be implementing an entry fee of US$50 per guest entering the casino, starting from June 1, 2019. Samaraweera defended the introduction of the entry fee by comparing it to the US$100 entry fee charged by the Singapore government.
In addition to these changes, the central government has also announced a 15% turnover tax on the revenues of the casinos, which will take effect from April 1, 2019. It is important to note that similar measures were announced in 2015 but were not fully implemented. President Maithripala Sirisena has previously expressed his disapproval of casinos and has vowed to prevent new casino projects from taking place.
At present, Sri Lanka is home to three existing casinos in Colombo. International casino companies such as Crown Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, and Caesars Entertainment have shown interest in establishing integrated casino resorts in the country. However, these proposals have faced opposition from political and social groups.
Overall, the Sri Lankan government’s decision to increase annual license fees and taxes for casinos is a bold step that has garnered attention both domestically and internationally. It remains to be seen how these changes will impact the casino industry in the country and whether they will be met with resistance or support.