The best example is Bellagio Colombo casino at no. 430, R.A. de Mel Mawatha (Duplication Road). The Betting Act requires the location of casinos at least 500 metres away from schools and religious places. However, this casino is located in front of Mahanama College, Kollupitiya, and within a 500 m distance of Valukarama Temple.
After the JHU and Buddhist monks pointed this out in 2010, Mahinda summoned Dhammika and ordered him to immediately close it down. He pleaded that he be given six months. During that period, what he did was not closing it down, but getting the support of Namal and Yoshitha to ensure the continuation of the casino. Due to the pressure of his sons, Mahinda had to keep silent. Until 2015, Dhammika managed to run that casino without any trouble.
Thereafter the Yahapaalana government came to power, and he immediately went to see the late Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, who played a key role in that government’s formation, and said he would voluntarily close down Bellagio Colombo Casino. He appealed to the prelate that he be given between six months to one year in consultation with the government leaders to do that. During that period, what he did was not to relocate it, but tried to find someone to use as the cat’s paw just like he did during the Rajapaksa rule.
For that, he was assisted by a man who owns massage clinics at Kollupitiya. Through him, Dhammika got friendly with Dudley Sirisena, the businessman brother of president Maithripala Sirisena. He sent Rs. five million, as pocket money, to JAIC Hilton Apartment, owned by Dudley. Accepting it, Dudley inquired from Dhammika through the massage clinic owner as to what he needed the government to do.
Dhammika did not ask for anything in return, and only requested him to visit his casino at his convenience and play a game. He has ordered the casino management to give Dudley any amount of chips free of charge if he came to play there. An addict to casinos, Dudley kindly turned down Dhammika’s request, saying “A real gambler cannot play with free chips. If the bet is to be enjoyed, he should spend his own money. Now, I cannot waste time at casinos like I did, when I was the health minister’s brother. Now, I am the president’s brother. I cannot tarnish my elder brother’s name by doing that. When I want, I go to Singapore to play casino.”
However, Dudley has ensured that Bellagio Casino continues at its present location. Dhammika has been able to manipulate Dudley as well as top UNP figures. However, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe does not know anything about this. Recently, this matter came up in his presence. A surprised PM inquired, “That casino is still in front of Mahanama College?” Without the president and the PM knowing it, the art of striking deals continues unchanged. People who voted for Yahapaalanaya are looking on open-mouthed and open-eyed at the SAITM, GMOA, IUSF and the dengue menace, while striking deals happens under their eyes.