Critic questions legitimacy of Crown’s Colombo license

Following Sri Lanka’s Cabinet approval last month for James Packer’s Colombo project, oppposition spokesman Harsha de Silva called for greater transparency in the license conditions attached to the development.  “I want to know what is the duration of his license, what is the fee, what are the conditions of the license and what recourse does this country have if he violates those conditions,” said de Silva.  

The government has said that the proposal is for a “mixed use” development  and that no new licenses are to be issued.  Ravi Wijeratne, chairman of Crown’s partner in the project Rank Entertainment Group, has said that he can transfer a license from another casino, but de Silva has questioned the legality of this.  The Casino Business Act passed in November 2010 decreed that from January 2012 all casino operators had to operate with a license and that details of these licenses would be posted in a national newspaper.  However, January 2012 passed without the government passing complementary legislation that would detail the term of a license.  “There are no casino operators in Sri Lanka with a license”, said de Silva.