Monday, June 17, 2024

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Colombo Port City new casino laws meet COPF hurdle

Colombo Port City Economic Commission’s latest move of enacting new legislation that would allow the country’s under-construction Colombo Port City development to feature at least one large casino resort came under stern objection of the public finance committee.

A casino resort for such an area would purportedly be looking to attract domestic patrons as well as those from the nearby nation of India and could one day even see gamblers turning up from as far afield as Europe and North America official sources said.

The Committee on Public Finance (COPF) has moved towards preventing Colombo Port City to prepare new legislation pertaining to the casinos within the offshore city free trade zone which is being set up on reclaimed land from the sea.

Public Service Commission Chairman Dr. Harsha de Silva told Parliament that the committee had informed the authorities of Port City that it has to abide by the existing laws pertaining to casinos.

“However the Port City will be welcomed to propose amendments to the existing laws.” he added

A special economic zone to be set up in the Colombo Port City reclaimed from the sea has a provision covering gaming according to a port city act passed in parliament in 2021.

A Colombo Port City Economic Commission, with a board appointed by the President of Sri Lanka and a Director General will administer the area.

The Special Zone is expected to bring a variety of investments including offshore banking to boost economic activity and also bring investments.

The Economic Commission has to license all businesses within the Port City and approve permits to “operate businesses, shopping, entertainment including gaming activities and such other facilities, to obtain possession of commercial residential facilities, in and from the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City.

The commission will also “regulate gaming activities within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City and where required to make regulations for the management of such activities.

The commission will also identifying “the attributes of gaming locations within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, and specifying the manner in which gaming activities are to be carried on or be operated, and the procedure for obtaining a licence and the licence fees , royalties to be paid and any other related matter, as may be necessary.”

The Economic Commission will have authority to grant exemptions or incentives under The Betting and Gaming Levy Act No 40 of 1988 and Casino Business (Regulation) Act Nov 17 of 2010.Any regulations issued by the Commission will have to be ratified in parliament.

There are several casinos operating in Colombo under de facto authority. However monks and other activists opposed the setting up of two new casinos linked to foreign operators a few years ago.

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