Australian Casino Moghul James Packer has confirmed plans to invest 400 million dollars to build a massive casino complex in Sri Lanka, the country’s media reports, even as the Sri Lankan Government consistently deny the investment has anything to do with a gambling resort in the heart of the capital.
Packer told the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission in a statement that he is currently in discussions with the Government in Colombo and joint venture partners on the project. Once constructed, the resort will have 450 rooms, restaurants and gambling spaces.
“I have great confidence in the country’s future and believe as a destination that it is Sri Lanka’s time to shine in Asia,” he said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.
“A Crown integrated resort would help redefine luxury tourism in Sri Lanka and play a significant role in helping to drive increased international in-bound tourism especially from India and China.”
The Australian businessman told the SEC that Parliament and the Sri Lankan Board of Investment were in the process of considering granting approvals for his project in Colombo.
The Opposition has come out strongly against the ‘Packer deal’ as it is known in Colombo saying the Government was preparing to grant the Australian Casino King 10 year tax breaks while repeatedly denying Mr. Packer was bringing a gambling resort to Colombo.
The Government is attempting to get the project approved in Parliament by calling Packer’s project a mixed development project. Minister of Investment Promotion Lakshman Yapa Abeywardane has consistently denied that his Government was going to issue any new casino licences to Packer’s joint venture.
UNP MP and Economist Dr. Harsha De Silva who Australian media has dubbed Packer’s harshest critic tweeted a short while ago that Packer had filed with the Austalian SEC that he was setting up Crown Colombo. “(Minister) Laksman Yapa says no licenses will be issued. What is going on?!” de Silva charged.