Happy Thanksgiving from GGB; Newsletter Returns December 4

Crown Still Waiting for Sri Lanka Casino OK

Sri Lanka’s government has finally approved Crown Resorts’ controversial $400 million casino hotel in the capital of Colombo—but without the casino. The Australian gaming giant says it is in negotiations with officials to make the all-important gaming portion of the project a reality.

Crown Resorts has won approval from Sri Lanka’s government to develop a luxury resort hotel in the capital of Colombo but without any specific endorsement of the casino that underpins the US0 million project.

Deputy Investment Promotion Minister Faizer Mustapha told Reuters that a new gazette notification has been issued for Crown and two other resort proposals, which means they have Cabinet approval and will be presented to Parliament, where the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa controls a large majority.

Mustapha reiterated, however, that official policy was not to issue any new casino licenses, although he left the door open to the possibility that gaming could be allowed through the leveraging of existing licenses.

Crown has denied that transplanting the license of its partner, incumbent casino operator Rank Entertainment Holdings, was a given but said through a spokesman that the company “is still in discussions with the government on the gaming side of the project”.

Crown’s proposal was expected to sail through the Parliament last year but was delayed after opposition by Buddhist religious leaders and opposition lawmakers forced the government to alter a generous package of tax concessions granted to the partnership.