Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved a proposal to issue the nation’s four casinos with official casino licenses in order to make it easier to collect tax revenues.
According to local media reports, Inland Revenue Department documents show that the casinos owe a combined Rs 2.67 billion (US$7.4 million) in taxes but these taxes have until now proven difficult to collect.
Despite the government having previously passed Act No. 17 of 2010 and the Betting and Gaming Levy Act No. 40 of 1988 – which were aimed at regulating the casino industry and should have seen licenses issues – no such issuance took place. By finally doing so, it is expected that recovering owed taxes will be made considerably easier.
The government has also proposed increasing the annual levy imposed on casinos from the current Rs 200 million (US$555,000) to Rs 500 million (US$1.4 million).
Ironically, the proposal comes just weeks after Sri Lanka’s “casino king” Dhammika Perera was appointed Investment Minister, tasked with turning the nation’s flailing economy around.
Sri Lanka defaulted on US$51 billion foreign debt in May and is seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund amid major food, fuel and goods shortages.
Perera, who has regularly featured in IAG’s annual Power 50 list and was named as “One to Watch” in 2021, owns three of the Sri Lanka’s five casino licenses, operating Bally’s Colombo, Bellagio Colombo and MGM Colombo.
He currently has interests in at least 23 large companies in Sri Lanka covering everything from manufacturing to finance and is widely acknowledged as the country’s richest man.