Australian billionaire James Packer’s plans for a $515 million casino in Sri Lanka has been knocked back by the country’s new government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Sri Lankan parliament that although the government banned approvals for casinos, proposed establishments “can conduct all other activities”, the AFR reported.
“We have decided to ban such approval for casinos,” the PM said.
The ban comes on the back of President Maithripala Sirisena’s election promise.
Gazette notices had originally provided tax concession to three casino projects, including Packer’s 400-room casino resort.
Packer received Sri Lankan cabinet approval for the project in 2013 and the Crown development was reportedly relying on gaming revenue to support the construction and advancement of the casino’s non-gaming facilities.
The government will review all casino licences and, while an area has yet to be decided upon, gaming in the island nation will be restricted to one specific location.
The SMH reported that the proposed casinos had been opposed by Buddhist leaders who feared gaming could lead to an increase in prostitution and harm the country’s culture.
In November last year, Packer’s hopes of opening a casino in Japan were quashed when Japanese lawmakers postponed gambling legislation negotiations.