25 September, 2020

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Casinos – The Unmaking Of UNP

By Muhammed Fazl

Muhammed Fazl

Muhammed Fazl

“The best throw of the dice is to throw them away” – English Proverb

Though Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) regime was defeated by a coalition of different political parties, the United National Party (UNP) seems to be in the driving seat for now. And for major changes to take effect, it would be only fair to give them a reasonable time frame. But when detrimental-to-society economic policies of the previous regime are being camouflaged and re-presented, I find myself being forced to write again interrupting my self-imposed hiatus.

Casinos and betting on horses, two deadly sins that had been a curse to thousands of my countrymen for decades, has been given approval to operate once again by the very same regime that campaigned on the promise of eradicating the ‘casino culture/economy’.

The moneyed and the powerful, strange bedfellows they make. It is no secret that Minister of Housing Mr. Sajith Premadasa’s friendship with the owner of Stardust/Marina Casinos Mr. Ravi Wijeratne dates back to the eighties. Knowing well the ‘permanent interests’ philosophy of Sir Winston Churchill, as much as close acolytes of MR they are, Mr. Wijeratne and Mr. Dhammika Perera of Ballagio/Ballys fame maintained a strong bond simultaneously with Mr. Premadasa and other top UNPers respectively. Having supported both sides during the recently concluded Presidential elections, it is now obvious that both Mr. Dhammika Perera’s and Ravi Wijeratne’s gaming empires would remain intact and unscathed, even from firebrand socialists and ‘holier-than-thou’ critics such as Mr. Patali Champika Ranwaka, Rev. Athureliya Rathana Thero of Hela Urumaya and Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake of JVP. While the stoic silence of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) aligned prominent Muslim politicians and Buddhist monks seems to be adding insult to injury, serious questions may be raised should they decide to play a political/religious role in their respective communities in the future.

Casinos, state sponsored lotteries & betting on horses

Casinos – Introduced by the UNP government of Late J.R. Jayewardene and closed down by the Late R. Premadasa in the early nineties, only for it to be re-opened again by the Late D.B. Wijetunge in 1993, along came prostitution (local and foreign), alcoholism, drug addiction, crimes, immorality, financial ruin etc.

Ravi Wijeratne

Ravi Wijeratne

Lotteries – State sponsored and in essence, a poor man’s method of indulgence in gambling with only a handful out of millions striking it big.

Betting on horses & sporting events – I always wondered why this business of betting that are monopolized by Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala of Sporting Star fame and by Mr. Lakshman Balasuriya of Sporting Times never caught the attention of no Finance Minister from no government in power in the last 3 decades when imposing taxes on gambling. With Yaha Palanaya at play, I was hoping that at least the new Minister of Finance Mr. Ravi Karunanayake would be intelligent enough to understand that even betting on horse races and sporting events is considered gambling.

Legislations & questions to Minister of Finance as per http://www.ird.gov.lk/bgl.html,

To begin with, NO CASINO LICENSE is in existence nor was one ever issued. And whatever legislation there is, it need not be surprising to see that instead of amending laws for the economy and society to benefit, the casino mafia has been the source of influence in drafting legislation which favored them from every government in power. At least now, I sincerely hope the following will get the attention of our new Minister of Finance Mr. Ravi Karunanayake,

  1. The Commissioner General of Inland Revenue (CGIR) is the concerned authority to collect any form of taxes from the Gaming and Betting industry.
  2. As per the Betting and Gaming Levy Act, No.40 of 1988, has the CGIR collected 1,000,000/- per annum for the period between 1988 to 2001 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mr. Lucky/Nalin Fonseka owned Ritz Club, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned King 8 Club? Apparently, Mr. Witchackshana also happens to be living right behind Sirikotha in Kotte.
  3. Dhammika Perera

    Dhammika Perera

    As per the Betting and Gaming Levy Act, No.7 of 2001, has the CGIR collected 25,000,000/-per annum for the period between 2001 to 2002 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mr. Nalin Fonseka owned Ritz Club, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned King 8 Club?

  4. As per the Betting and Gaming Levy Act, No.23 of 2003, has the CGIR collected 12,000,000/- per annum for the period between 2002 to 2005 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mr. Nalin Fonseka owned Ritz Club, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned King 8 Club?
  5. As per the Betting and Gaming Levy Act, No.9 of 2005, has the CGIR collected Rs. 50,000,000/- per annum for the period between 2005 to 2013 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mr. Nalin Fonseka owned Ritz Club, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned Red Star Club?
  6. As per the Betting and Gaming Levy Act, 19 of 2013 has the CGIR collected Rs. 100,000,000/- per annum for the period between 2013 to 2015 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino and Marina Club, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned Red Star Club?
  7. In addition to the above levy, has the CGIR collected the VAT Tax of 12% from the year 2002 to 2013 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mr. Nalin Fonseka owned Ritz Club, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned Red Star/Kings 8 Clubs?
  8. In addition to the above levies and taxes, has the CGIR collected the Nation Building Tax of 3% from the year 2009 to 2013 from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio/Ballys Clubs, Mr. Nalin Fonseka owned Ritz Club, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned Red Star Club?
  9. Thilanga Sumathipala

    Thilanga Sumathipala

    As per the Betting and Gaming Levy Act, No.19 of 2013, In addition to the above levies and taxes, from the years 2013 to date, has the CGIR collected an amount equivalent to 5% of the gross collection from Mr. Ravi Wijeratne owned Stardust Casino and Marina Club, Mr. Dhammika Perera owned MGM/Ballagio Club/Ballys Clubs, Mrs. Neththicumara owned Salaka Club and from Mr. Hiran Witchackshana owned Red Star Club?

  10. Based on reliable insider information, while the net profit figure seems to be in the region of Rs. 100 million a month in each of the casinos owned by Mr. Wijeratne and Mr. Perera, has either of them paid any Corporate Taxes ever in relation to the casino income in addition to the Gaming Levies and Taxes?
  11. As per all Betting and Gaming Acts of Sri Lanka, has the CGIR collected all funds due in the last 3 decades from almost 500 horse race Betting Centers and Bookies belonging to the Sumathipala family (Sporting Star), the Balasuriyas (Sporting Times) and to a lesser extent, from that which belongs to Mr. Ravi Balasuriya, MD/Chairman of Delmon Holdings and who also held the position of Economic Adviser to MR.
  12. Knowing well the manipulative nature of concerned operators and owners, in the event of non-payment of required levies and taxes continuously and consistently, would the present government file criminal charges and/or make genuine attempts in recovering all past dues with minimum delay?
  13. Please explain the media circus in highlighting the exit of Mr. James Packer from the gaming scene. Please also explain the advantages and difference when locals operate casinos in Sri Lanka as against Mr. James Packer’s presence.
  14. In order for them to save Rs. 1000 million for each location, would it not be the same if Mr. Perera or Mr. Wijeratne expands a current single location in to a mega size casino that can accommodate 5 times the existing capacity and on par with casinos found in Las Vegas or Macau as against having multiple and smaller locations? Does it also not exist the possibility for a foreign investor (possibly Mr. Packer again) to buy a stake in the existing but expanded and refurbished casino?
  15. Is it not true that the budgetary proposal to charge ‘existing casino owners’ Rs. 1000 million as a one-time fee were custom-made for Mr. Wijeratne and Mr. Perera and in order to prevent a third player coming in to the market?
  16. In the absence of an oversight authority or a regulatory body, would it not arise the issue of money-laundering?
  17. In comparison to the previous tax of Rs. 100 million per annum per casino, wouldn’t the new and the one-time tax of Rs. 1000 million equal 10 years of tax and a free ride afterwards? Is it not a short-sighted economic policy which was imposed to sustain the freebies offered in the interim budget just prior to a major election and to attract votes from the ordinary masses?
  18. If re-assigning of 16,000 plus employees of the now-defunct Divi Neguma project of Mr. Basil Rajapaksa can be undertaken by the present government, would it be really hard to provide employment to 3,000 plus employees in the event of a closure of all casinos and betting centers?
  19. In the absence of a regulatory body, would it not continue the common practice of laying down of unfair-to-punter gaming laws by the casino management and the physical harm unleashed by security personnel on gamblers who are sometimes out of line and intoxicated after losing it all?

Food for thought

  • Slot Machines – Not regulated in Sri Lanka (SL) and paying out small ‘wins’ at psychologically administered intervals to keep one interested and hopeful. It is engineered to addict people by producing a mesmerizing experience of sound, lights and repetitive motion that makes both time and money vanish.
  • A Canadian study that finds that the 75% of casino customers who play only occasionally provide only 4% of casino revenues. It’s the problem gambler who keeps the casino in business.
  • Gamblers living within 10 miles of a casino exhibit double the rate of problem gambling. Unsurprisingly, such communities also suffer higher rates of economic distress and domestic violence.
  • Alcohol impairs one’s ability to think rationally. Local casinos giving free liquor with unlimited number of servings has resulted in gamblers losing it all more often than not.
  • Only a handful of tourists frequent casinos in SL and the few tourists who do play with a couple of hundred Dollars usually come out as winners. Hence the LOSS of foreign exchange. Even if casinos are restricted to tourists only, it would still be contrary to the teaching of Lord Buddha, Prophet Muhammed (P.B.U.H) and Prophet Jesus (p.b.u.h) among others. Nor would it be morally correct to seek an income while destroying the life of another human being, be they white, black or colored.
  • The only tourists SL casinos managed attract are prostitutes from Russia, Thailand and China… and that too only to attract potential high rollers. Sometimes the Thai and Chinese prostitutes are gamblers themselves, usually playing with money earned from selling their bodies. Then there is also the Chinese Mafia lending money to Chinese prostitutes to gamble demanding a return of 20% per week by holding their passports as collateral. There are few Chinese businessman who also engages illegally in retail trades in SL in order to sustain their gambling habits.
  • Gambling is an addiction just like drug abuse and alcoholism. But much worse since families, friends and co-workers connected to addicts losing money as well due to borrowings.
  • Families break up, jobs lost, professional careers and education interrupted, reputation destroyed and lives lost due to suicides and murder… all due to love of money or due to foolish hopes of recovering overnight that which was lost over a period of time.
  • Gamblers resorting to white collar and violent crimes when regular and legal sources of income runs dry.

The ‘house always wins’ and it would be next to impossible to find an owner of a casino gambling anywhere ever. Being exposed to the evils of gambling behind the glitz and glamour, from Las Vegas to Macau, from Piccadilly to the Genting Highlands, in a span of two decades, Dollar millionaires have been reduced to down-and-outs in no time with quite a few ending deeply in red. Some of them have even resorted to white collar crimes in order to sustain the habit. Thank God for there is a lesson for all of us to learn from and now with a new government in power, we finally have a chance to take preventive measures in protecting the present and future generations.

Also, it is a case of irony seeing members of the Sumathipala family (Sporting Star fame) holding important positions in the powerful All Ceylon Buddhist Congress of Sri Lanka. Then again I assumed questions of integrity of the flag bearers of Buddhism considering their lack of conscience and respect is not applicable when one is rich or powerful. SL predominantly being a nation of Buddhists, I believe relying on casinos to sustain the economy is akin to resorting to prostitution to make ends meet. It is indeed regretful and makes a mockery of the constitution when ruling party politicians themselves promote gambling in the form of lotteries in addition to allowing casinos and betting on horses/sporting events when Buddhism is supposed to be protected by the very same government they represent.

By firing an initial salvo against the present government of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, it is highly likely that I might be heading on a collision course. Either case, there will be NO COMPROMISE on my stance against the existence or the continuation of casinos, horse racing betting centers and bookies. And it would be in the best interest of the UNP led government to heed to my humble request and shut it all down for good and without delay.

*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on muhammedfazl@msn.com and through FB (Fazl Muhammed Nizar)

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Latest comments

  • 7
    17

    Singapore has managed to earn money from Casinos with strict rules & regulations.Malaysia has Gentings.Locals have to pay $200 for every time they visit a Casino in Singapore maybe even a limit on number of visits per month?

    If not wrong Singapore earns $2 Billion a year from its Casino.

    Even Melbourne and soon Sydney will have a Crown casino all with strict rules and regulations re taxes to be paid,addiction.

    What Lanka could benefit is a International operator coming in once Gaming Commision/Regulatory body has been set up.Colombo has zero entertainment.
    This one-off fee should be levied once a month at 25 Million Rs

    • 25
      3

      Singapore and Auz do have something called the rule of law and not like this wonder of Asia which was running by a family that is corrupt to the core.

      Rajapaksas had dreams of getting upto 1/3 of the Casino earnings for themsleves and carefully got that act passed in the Parliament by none other than the so called Muslim leader Casino-Mustapa.

      • 3
        1

        So Aus and NZ have rule of law. So Casino and gambling is good for them for that reason?

        Rajapaksa dreams of 1/3 … So it failed … what do you think … good or bad?

        Do you think it would have been better if a Sinhala Buddhist got the casino law passed instead of vermin Mustapa?

        You don’t make any sense, but still you got 12 thumbsup? How do you do that? How stupid is your fan base?

        • 0
          2

          man… I never mentioned NZ which Ive never been to.

          As a frequent traveller for both AUZ and Singapore, I was to accompany few office mates for Casinos in both locations though Im not a gambler or literally I dont know how to gamble other than the occasional Lottery ticket.

          As in Singapore, they do have a Levy for locals to enter into a Casino and they do have only 2 casinos in the country, compared for around 8 in Colombo.

          Also they can monitor the people like the family can report the person and the govt will block that person entering into these Casinos.

          with a population of around 4Million Singapore can cater to the millions of tourists from Mainland China as well as those countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Phillipines with the corrup bureacrats will travel for an hours journey and gamble in discreet other than in their own country.

          The plans of Rajapaksas was to give Tax reliefs for Packers and JKH partners to attact the Indian tourists though that idea may have not worked in the later stage of MaRa regime., Indians did hate his regime and they probably can keep breaks for the Indian tourists.

    • 7
      1

      Fazl,

      Thanks a lot for taking on the Casino & Horse Racing Mafia in Colombo.

      Gambling will not be dismantled. God Fathers of this industry are way too well-connected to both UNP & SLFP. They have cleverly woven themselves into the fabric of Colombo’s political establishment.

      In reality Dhammika, Ravi & Sumathipala should all be in prison already. Rather than operating businesses.

      Sumathipala in All Ceylon Buddhist Congress? What a joke!

      Horse-racing is also terrible animal abuse. If only people knew the kind of cruelty a horse must endure for racing. Organized by profit seeking two-legged wild animals. The humans.

      Cheers!

      PS: Singapore & Australian examples will not work in Colombo. Sri Lanka is utterly corrupt.

      • 5
        2

        Sumathipala being in a leading Buddhist organisation is his way of atoning for his sins as per the ritualistic Buddhism promulgated by Professor Kapila Abhayawansa.

        I totally agree about the animal abuse by the two legged animals.

        Though Sri Lankans claim to be Buddhists, Buddhism itself must reject being part of Sri Lanka. We as a nation are anything but Buddhists.

        I agree Sri Lanka is utterly corrupt but must also add that we are utterly vicious and utterly cruel also. What we have engaged in since independance is all the evidence I need to produce to substantiate my claim.

    • 6
      1

      What is this big fuss about Casinos? Or even prostitutions? Both exist in the West and East in the known history.. In SL we have Buruwa card game, Pora Kukullu, and many different forms of prostitution. People bet on horses running in England? How pathetic? Even in the West, I guess only 0.1% or less do regular gambling, regular users of prostitution must be much less. Perhaps 2~3% do gambling once in six months.. What if we ban or try to prevent this 0.1% or 1% people have this genetic issue? They might become violent…. Don’t we see it in SL?? Is SL people ethically and culturally better people than West or Japanese? I doubt it. (Japan has Casino (Pachinco) in every street corner, prostitutes advertise in every telephone booth )
      Google search tread shows that SL is #1 country which do searches on “Sex”, and SL top in this trend in the last 4 consecutive years… How do you going to prevent people from doing online gambling in the future… I believe regulated gambling and prostitution is the way to go. Then girls could be able to walk on public roads by themselves after 6PM…

  • 17
    2

    Very valid points sir.
    Bookiepala family controlling the ACBC is a real shame for the Buddhist of this country and not sure Gnanasara or JHU have anything to say in here? probably ger few millions for their leaders election campaigns and Thilanga Bookiepala is swithing to whatever the govt in power.

    Ravi K should have looked into this Horse racing industry as well.

    Then with Rajapaksas had big ideas with Packer and the other 2 projects coming with JKH conglomete as Rajapaksas may have minted money with tax concessions given to gaming industy as the first thing in this world and they may have takeb the money back to their Swiss or Seashells accounts.

    It was really sorry to see that Casino-Musthapa was used by Rajapaksas to present the Casino act to the parliament and then fool the masses saying Packer is building a hotel and NOT a Casno. What kind of a Muslim is this Casino-Mustapa? Can a Muslim do this though he may have got a cut from Packer ?

  • 5
    14

    Hello Fazl,

    You are back. Self imposed hiatus was a good idea. White vans were being seen circling around your home.

    Anyway don’t be complacent. These people you are prodding CGIR to pursue for hundreds of millions can make you disappear for a fraction of that amount.

    The change of government does not mean the law will be upheld. Sooner rather than later the new politicians snouts will be scrambling to bury in the gravy train.

  • 8
    1

    No govt will ban casinos completely. The operators are too powerful and well connected. We all know the connections of Dhammika and Ravi with UNP.

    Horse racing and betting will not be closed down since a large section of population is addicted to it. Also the two operators Balasuriya and Sumathipala are politically well connected.

    ACBC is a joke and imagine a bookie being the chair of the organization. But nobody cares and hence nothing to worry.

    These industries can only be run when there is a proper surveillance and law enforcement mechanism in a country and unfortunately we are far from it,

    • 5
      2

      You are right if you are implying that gambling will continue unabated in Sri Lanka, because there is no political willingness.

      You are wrong if you are saying that government will not pull the plug because the people are addicted already.

      You are also wrong if you are implying gambling will continue because the country lacks a legal framework, and a policing set up to enforce a ban against gambling. The law of Sri Lanka already stipulates that gambling is illegal.

      I want to show you how easy it is to stop the gambling menace.

      1. Arrest the three or four kingpins. Ravi Wijeratna, Dhammika Perera, Thilanga Sumathipala. Keep them incommunicado, but comfortably housed in detention. Give them to eat and drink whatever they want. No torture. No internet. No phones. No visits. Let the President himself meet them at regular intervals.

      Every 7 seven days arrest 20 persons from the second tier of the gambling establishments. Give them normal Welikada treatment. No bail.

      2. Explain to them the damage they are doing to the country. Explain to them kindly that they do not need the mountains of money they are making to make them happy. Ask, are you going to take the money to the next world.

      3. Tell them “if we wish, we can send you to the next world immediately”. But we do not want to do that. We want you to be good men and continue your good life.

      4. I guarantee that these good men will turn over a new leaf after being in detention for six months, by which time their gambling business will be in tatters.

      Footnote: To effectively eradicate the menace, the Executive President needs to be the Executive President for this purpose by assuming the role of FOUNTAIN OF JUSTICE. Translation: No bail regardless of what the law says, until the problem is solved. Even the gods will excuse the transgression, if the intention is pure and result is nothing but good.

      You see, Jagath Fernando, only the political willingness is required to stop the menace. The machinery required is already in place. If Ravi Karunanayake and the Minister in charge of the Police can make up their minds to be less greedy and more patriotic, this can be done immediately. No need for the President to be troubled, except to participate in ‘cordial’ meetings with the kingpins in detention.

  • 6
    6

    LET THEIR BE MORE CASINOS.people must be self deciplined.

    Mr. Fazl…….. could you do an indepth study to see who actually introduced DRUGs to Sri Lanka and moreover how many people from and from which COMMUNITIES are peddaling in it.

    Casinos need to be regulated. If regulated well a benefit to SL coffers.
    “only for it to be re-opened again by the Late D.B. Wijetunge in 1993, along came prostitution (local and foreign), alcoholism, drug addiction, crimes, immorality, financial ruin etc.”

    Prostitution is the oldest profession. It is there because people Patronise it.
    Alcoholism…….. Is an age old thing. But it is upto the individual.
    DRUGS…. Need to findout who introduced it and which Communities known to pedal in it and the community most renowned.
    Cannibis……… an age old medicinal thing.
    Also mixed into “SABJEE” and a meat tederiser.

    These are crimes/Immorality & Financial ruins.
    DO NOT DIRECT THE FINGER AT GOVERNMENTS AND PEOPLE.
    IT IS UPTO THE PEOPLE TO BE SELF DECIPLINED AND TO KNOW FROM RIGHTS TO WRONG.
    The Governments worldover has educated the people but if people give into their greed and lust what can one do.

    To overcome such vices, it begings with FAZL & ME.

    • 5
      1

      Why don’t you ask all Buddhist men to become monks, taking the oath of celibacy and piety? If they do, there will be self discipline.

      Thondamannar, you are not only a Sinhala racist but also a dishonest man waiting, yearning that the new government will be able to do nothing, and hoping soon it will crash.

  • 5
    0

    Dear Mr Maithripala Sirsena, Your Excellency,

    I know from personal knowledge that betting on horse racing has made Sri Lankan families destitute, and their bread winner men less than human. I remember that in the sixties, and seventies Thaha (Middletown), and Mukhtar (Sporting Card ) were the kingpins of this so called sport. I myself have lost an astronomical amount I am ashamed to admit even to myself. I still remember the helpless tears my wife shed silently into the night. But for this lapse of logic on my part my family will be living a more comfortable, even a more dignified life. Still I am one of the few luckier ones, who was blessed with timely guidance to redeem myself.

    The Gambling Industry today is a million fold worse for the human tragedies it generates. Bread winner men folk are held captive to the addiction (created by Gambling Moghuls); their women folk are quietly carrying their grief to their pillows. Needless to say it is tragic; it is heart breaking. Damage to society is monumental while also irreparable.

    Intriguingly there are no statistics available concerning the revenues of the gambling industry, percentage of families rendered destitute. I suspect such information will be mind boggling. I suspect that about 200,000 people are directly or indirectly employed in this industry. This includes the street corner betting shop guys who collect bets on the Sporting Star published race cards.

    On a commonsense approach it seems to me that to provide a livelihood for these 200,000 people, it is a horrific crime to render two or three million people destitute. Yes Mr President, it is a crime. As the President of the Country who has the power to stop the menace, you become a criminal by merely choosing to not exercise that power. To continue to permit such an atrocity, to me it is clear that it militates against the Yahapalanaya. Reminds me of bastard Jayawardene’s Dharmishta Society! Why talk about him … he is already providing eternal fuel for hell’s fire. My fervent hope is that Yahapalanaya is not allowed to go the way of the Dharmishta Palanaya.

    In my usual style I like to appeal to you, Maithripala Sirisena, direct, to consider calling the kingpins of the gambling industry for a meeting and ask for their co-operation to stop the gambling menace. Let them also repair the damage they have done to Society.

    I do not pretend to know the methods Mr Maithripala should use. But there will be many such methods he can formulate with the help of a panel of experts.

    On a lighter note, it is tempting to ask the recent CT experts on Buddhism, Mrs Sharmini Serasinghe and Professor Kapila Abhayawansa what they think about Lord Buddha’s take on gambling. Gnanasara too can be asked to contribute, to atone for the recent murder and mayhem he unleashed.

    Please Mr Maithripala, this is is a life and death matter for a couple of million citizens of our Country – especially the victim women and children. Show us you love your country.

    • 8
      2

      Dear Navin, You are blaming the industry for your gambling addiction. Then you should also blame the taverns for alcohol addiction and pharmacies for the drug addiction. Only you can cure yourself of addiction. There are various rehabilitation clinics on offer. We live in times we have to appreciate the necessary evil of gambling. Tourism, after all is our bread and butter and unfortunately gambling seems to be a necessary attraction. The gambling industry is also a significant jobs provider which we cannot afford to lose just because the weak willed becomes addicts.

      • 2
        6

        Sylvia

        You are limited in intellect. You cannot comprehend what is going in this discussion.

        Please do not distract. Please go away.

        • 0
          0

          Navin, I have read your ramblings again, but I feel I am right. Please enlighten me where I am wrong, or are you too weak-willed.

          • 0
            0

            Take the comments exchanged to your night school and ask your teacher to explain to you.

  • 3
    1

    “Casinos – Introduced by the UNP government of Late J.R. Jayewardene and closed down by the Late R. Premadasa in the early nineties, only for it to be re-opened again by the Late D.B. Wijetunge in 1993, along came prostitution (local and foreign), alcoholism, drug addiction, crimes, immorality, financial ruin etc.”

    Dubai has prostitutes and no Casinos. There need not be Casinos for there to be prostitution. Prostitution can be found everywhere.

    Alcoholism and drug abuse also does not need Casinos to thrive. Drug abuse is rife in Iran and Pakistan, neither countries with Casinos.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with Casinos. As long as Sri Lanka only allows foreign passport holders or those with very high incomes, it can be beneficial for the country.

    There are negative side effects with Casinos but there are negative side effects with a lot of industry.

    Casino in Sri Lanka will entice rich Indians and Arabs. It can be a great boon for Lankans.

  • 3
    1

    Everyone seems to have forgotten the government owned national lotteries board!! I’m not sure how much they earn but this is the irony of ironies. It is ridiculous to stop all gambling all together from a country. That would only amount to bigotry which sri Lankans seem to have bag loads of!!

  • 1
    1

    Everyone seems to have forgotten the government owned National Lotteries Board. I don’t know how much it make but it is the irony of ironies… No country should ban gambling all together. This amounts to bigotry which Sri Lankans unfortunately happen to have bag loads of!!

  • 5
    3

    There are sound and noble objectives behind this strict prohibition of gambling in Islam:

    1. The Islamic teachings urge the Muslim to follow Allah’s directives for earning a living, to use natural laws and direct means for the attainment of his objectives, and to employ such causes to produce the desired effects. Gambling, which includes betting, raffling or the lottery, on the other hand, makes a person dependent on chance, ‘luck’ and empty wishes, taking him away from honest labor, serious work and productive effort. The person who depends on gambling loses respect for the laws of causation which Allah has established and commanded people to use.

    2. In Islam, an individual’s property is sacred; it may not be taken from him except through lawful exchange or unless he gives it freely as a gift or in charity. Accordingly, taking it from him by gambling is unlawful.

    3. It is therefore not surprising that gamblers develop hatred and enmity towards one another, although they may claim that losing does not trouble them. There is always a winner and a loser. The loser may seem composed but behind his composure is frustration, anger, and regret: frustration due to disappointment, anger at the loss of money, and regret for not having played a winning game.

    4. Gambling has its own compulsion. The loser plays again in hope of winning the next game in order to regain his earlier losses, while the winner plays again to enjoy the pleasure of winning, impelled by greed for more. Naturally, luck changes hands, the loser becomes the winner and the winner the loser, and the joy of winning changes into the bitterness of loss. Thus the gamblers may persist at playing the game, unable to bring themselves to leave it; this is the secret of the addiction to gambling.

    5. Because of this addiction, gambling is a danger to the society as well as to the individual. This habit consumes gamblers’ time and energy, making them non-productive idlers and parasites on society, who take but do not give, who consume but do not produce. Moreover, due to his absorption with gambling, the gambler neglects his obligations towards his Creator and his duties towards his community. It often happens that a gambling addict sells his honor, religion, and country for the sake of the gaming table, since his devotion to this table dulls his sense of values and kills all other devotions.

    How correct the Qur’an is in mentioning drinking and gambling together in its verses, since their harmful effects on the individual, the family, and society are very similar. What is more like alcoholism than addiction to gambling? This is why one usually is not found without the other. Again, how correct the Qur’an is when it teaches us that both of these, drinking and gambling, are inspired by Satan, that they are akin to idolatry and divining by arrows, and that they are filthy and abominable habits which must be shunned: ‘O you who believe, truly intoxicants and gambling and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satan’s doing; avoid them in order that you may be successful. Assuredly Satan desires to sow enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants and gambling, and to hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not then desist?’ (Al-Ma’idah: 93-94)”

    • 3
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      Nothing wrong with gambling.Anything in moderation is ok.

      The problem with soo many people, especially religious folks , in developing nations are the so called holier than god moralizers.

      Why do you lot just let people live their life and enjoy it.As long as they don’t infringe on your rights don’t try to dictate to everyone how they should live , what they should say and what they should worship.

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    Knowing Sri Lankan political culture you are within White-vanning range!!

    Hope Hon. Ravi K. will send them a letter of demand calculating the dues to-date and I
    guessing the amount, give them an inducement of 50% reduction for settlement before
    30th June, 2015 !! This will be in keeping with words and deeds.

    The Writer will have to await the RTI Bill to go further into this matter I suppose.

  • 0
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    Casinos are for the Elite and the Anglicans,

    Bucket shops are for the Dalits.

    Why does Fazi worry , when both are Haram to Fazi Clan?.

    Elite and the Anglican kids are biggest losers with the 8000 jobs going down the gurgler….

    BTW, Has Bellagio pulled out too or Ranil’s uncle has given them Tax exemptions for 50 Years?….

    • 0
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      “Casinos are for the Elite and the Anglicans”

      Since when did Dhammika Perera and Thilanga Sumathipala or Ravi Wijeratne become Anglicans?infact Thilanga is in the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress hahahaah

      please talk some sense MR K A Sumanasekera (but sense and Sumanasekera are poles apart neda)

      • 0
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        You got a point P. Lover.

        Sumathipala doesn’t even sound an Elie name.

        BTW, are you planning to build your Holiday Pad in Eelaam or the Islamist State in Ampare?..

        • 0
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          well infact I was thinking of building my home in the land that you gave me last year K A Sumanasekera!

  • 4
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    I doubt any country can do righteous indignation as well as Sri Lankan’s :-)

    Instead of banning this, banning that…why not just learn to control oneself?

  • 8
    2

    Muhammed Fazl

    By firing an initial salvo against the present government of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, it is highly likely that I might be heading on a collision course. Either case, there will be NO COMPROMISE on my stance against the existence or the continuation of casinos, horse racing betting centers and bookies. And it would be in the best interest of the UNP led government to heed to my humble request and shut it all down for good and without delay.

    *** I find the above very intriguing as the biggest Race Horse Owners come from the Arab World and no doubt you have religious connection to the Arab World.

    [Edited out] and I can give you a full list.

    The Richest Race is run in Meydan in Dubai
    The biggest alcohol consumers are Arabs when they come to the UK and I am sure you know that.

    What I am getting round to is the hypocrisy. Anything in Moderation is fine as long as it doesn’t destroy peoples lives.
    So I wouldn’t completely ban it but control it.

    • 6
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      Kali,

      What has the Arabs got to do with me or my countrymen? If Sri Lankans are destroying their lives, NO Arab is gonna come to our aid. Please try understanding that CT is not a forum for you to vent our your racist frustrations.

      Let us just discuss the pros and cons of the industry as a whole. Thank you…

      • 1
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        It is quite pathetic to use the race card here because the poster is using the example of Gulf/Khaleeji Arabs to show that outright condemning gambling culture the way you do is not justified. In moderation , there is nothing wrong with gambling or alcohol.

        You write about about how Casino and gambling culture (including State lottery) is bad for Sri Lanka and other ills such as prostitution and alcoholism accompany it. The UAE with its booze and prostitutes and no Casinos shows that there need not be Casinos for there to be prostitutes and alcohol culture .

        The fact that you even castigate State lottery gives the impression your opinion piece is religious chauvinism cloaked under concern for Lankan wellbeing.

    • 3
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      This to the Editor

      I hope you will allow this so the readers can make a judgement as to what you have edited out.
      I stated facts which are not libelous and that shows you immaturity and the names of owners I listed are household names all over the World. Even her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth owns Horses. In the interest of freedom of expression I expect you to publish this.

  • 7
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    Fazl Muhammed

    I know the truth hurts. You don’t have to be an Arab to raise your objections if it affects and blights the lives of a fellow Human being. Don’t show double standards.

    • 5
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      Kali, a racist bigot like you need to learn to argue your points in contrary to the writer’s view by substantiating your vacuous claims with facts and figures. Your twisted logic Kali shows how narrow minded you are. May be the “Aiyo Siripala’s” in future will need bigots like you to join their band wagon with a possible second coming of the Mahinda Mafia. It is to avert this danger that journalist like Fazl criticize the present administration because if they don’t, these mutts also will be doomed like their predecessors if politicians don’t change coarse for the betterment of our country. Do you understand what I have said Kali? Don’t rant like an idiot.

      • 7
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        WalaGemba Raja

        Racists comes in all shapes and sizes and you hiding behind a Tamil name top the list. The writer is up in arms about the Casinos and Betting Shops in Sinhla Lanka and I dont have to be a Racist to show up his double standards. His objection to the Casinos is not based on his concern for the people of Sinhala Lanka but based on his religion and Islam rejects any forms of Gambling. That is why I brought to his attention that the Arabs ( by birth emmbrace Islam and nothing wrong with that) are the biggest Race Horse Owners.

        So I am not prepared to take lectures from you.

        • 4
          4

          Kali,

          I am surprised you are not getting the point.

          Fazl is a Sri Lankan talking about issues in Sri Lanka.

          He is not talking about issues in the Arab world. You can talk to Fazl about the hypocricy of Arab leaders when when Fazl writes about the Arab world.

          Kali, have you heard the oft repeated Sinhala adage, ‘koheda yanne – malle pol.’

          • 4
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            BBS Rep

            I am not missing the point and I know what I am talking about. Sri Lanka is a Democracy and people should have choices and I am not saying that Sri Lanka should become the Capitol of Gambling like Las Vegas. Anyting in Moderation is fine. It provides entertainment for those who seek it and also provides employment and brings in a lot of revenue. All in all it is a Good thing if properly controlled and regulated.

          • 2
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            BBS Rep

            This is Democracy at work. You attack the Muslims ( I dont mean you personnaly) for who they are but you have now become strange bed fellows opposing Casinos and Beting for Religious reasons. I am glad at least you have something in common and unite against it. Why not extend it to other areas and show tolerance.

          • 1
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            It is pertinent to use the examples of other regions , like the UAE for example , because Fazl is claiming alcohol abuse , prostitution and other ills accompany gambling. Ofcourse these problems feed off gambling but these issues also exist sans Gambling .

            He also piggybacks State lottery -which is not in the same league as Casino or Sports betting- to his condemnation of Casino and Sports betting . This comes across as fundamental opposition to all forms of gambling; the kind of attitude displayed by religious conviction.

            Casinos have been a boon to Native American reservations . Sri Lanka can attract wealthy Indians and Gulf Arabs and expats with Casinos.

            • 1
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              “Casinos have been a boon to Native American reservations . Sri Lanka can attract wealthy Indians and Gulf Arabs and expats with Casinos. “
              ——————-
              Parasite!

              You dont mind feeding off others, while protecting your own.

              That says a lot about your humanity.

  • 1
    1

    In fact of casinos, why don’t Government promote indoor entertainment centers similar to sport zones where the tourists, locals and families could entertain themselves without feeling any guilt.

    These could be built near water fronts, parks, beaches, leading towns and hotels and near play grounds.

    Sri Lanka lacks indoor leisure and entertainment centers other than few night clubs in Colombo.

    Basically Sri Lanka is climatically warm country with very high moisture content and the need for indoor leisure centers are in demand.

    Make it a Sri Lankan affair and a Sri Lankan style entertainment centers where both Locals as well as tourists could enjoy.

  • 1
    2

    Fazi, thankyou for your very detailed account. Yes, this is a menace that can be eradicated/controlled by the powers be. But the fact is that they will appoint another committee and eventually another ministry, then appoint a minister, more people to serve him, etc, etc. At the end the issue will be the same or worse as time goes by. No govt will ever collect those past monies owed to it by these big -wigs, neither will they get any money going forward. This is Sri Lanka, get used to it.

  • 1
    2

    all true…..but point of fact….the race by race facilities…of balasuriya’s & the sumathipala’s….are the biggest winner’s…..they….along with the casino’s of dhammika perera & stardust owned casino’s….should be shut down completely…..although there is no prostition….at the race by race centeres …..as opposed to rampant…unedrage../ brothel style…( XO..Karoake Club….on the Star Dust Casino premises…( IT WAS A GLORIFIED BROTHEL…) )…..the Balasuriya…sporting life concern…is so corrupt…they dont pay out….even when you win….& charge the 5 % tax the Govt charges them…to the customer….!! & They fiddle the books…to not even pay the Govt the correct AMOUNT..!!!…SAKVITHI….Lost 22 Million of STOLEN MONEY to BALASURIYA’S race by race…….!! THEY SHOULD pay that money back to the ScreweD investors….!!!!

  • 0
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    [Edited out}

  • 2
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    I would like Fazl or CT to send this article and if possible with comments to Rev. Sobitha and Rathna Hamuduruwas. I like to them to know what are their views on this issue.

  • 1
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    Hi Maali,

    I tried to get through to Rathano Himi, but his secretary told me to come on Wednesday (public day) to meet him. I really DONT need to meet him. Him being in the parliament, he should have known what is happening in the country. I just might start a broader movement to shut it all for good.

    Cheers…

    • 3
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      What “vices” will this movement try and shut down?

      Only lottery or will it shut down the any of the following?

      Alcohol?

      Smoking?

      Over eating? (leading to premature heart attack and death)

      Abortion?

      Where will the “shutting down” stop?

    • 1
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      Fazl Muhammed

      ‘ I just might start a broader movement to shut it all for good ‘

      Gosh man , I think you take yourself too seriously !!

  • 2
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    The new government has taken one positive step in steeply increasing the taxes on existing casinos and giving them notice to move to Kalpitiya. Kalpitiya gaming regulations should be identical to Genting Islands in Malaysia, where they appear to have struck the correct balance. Kerry Packer in his presentation showed the impact of the development of Casinos on the growth of the tourist industry. There will be a huge excess of hotel rooms in Colombo, if we do not cater to the needs of the tourist industry.

    Casinos are not patronized by the low and middle income groups. It is the betting on horse racing, drugs and illicit alcohol that is responsible for reducing the percentage of income received by the lower 40% of the population in Sri Lanka from 16% in 2006 to 13% in 2012. This is the failure of the Mahinda Chintana policy that neglected the ‘Mathata Thitha’ component of the policy.

    The ‘Maithri Palanaya’ must focus on increasing the household income to once again reach the 2006 level of 16% of the income, while increasing the income from the tourism sector and reducing the budget deficit.

  • 1
    1

    A well researched and informative article,Thanks !

    On the subject of Casino’s …What was Dhammika Perera owner of many Casino’s doing as Secretary Ministry of Highways..a MR Ministry at that.What was the exceptional benefit I wonder of this ??

    Same as Oligarch’s in Russia,many wearing ties made rich at expense of people during last 10 years and should be investigated,held accountable.

    Otherwise this rot will continue.

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