Australian casino magnate James Packer is serious about putting up the biggest integrated resort and casino in Sri Lanka. That explains why he’s been making numerous trips to the island in the past few months in an attempt to explore whatever opportunities are presented his way.
According to Sri Lankan newspaper Daily FT, Packer flew to Sri Lanka last week for the second time in two months, a sign that he’s pretty serious in building a $350 million integrated casino and resort in the country’s capital of Colombo. Packer’s interest in Sri Lanka appears to hinge on the enormous potential it can bring, particularly with India, one of the world’s most populated countries, sitting right next door. While nobody has any illusions that Sri Lanka can be to India what Macau is to China, the appeal is certainly there, especially since India has strict anti-gambling laws like China and equally important, the Sri Lankan government is warming up to the idea of putting up an entertainment center in the capital that would include a casino.
Even without the allure of a lavish casino in Sri Lanka, the country already hosts a significant number of tourists coming from India. Just last year, over 1 million tourists flocked to the island nation, a significant number that Sri Lanka hopes will reach 2.6 million by 2016.
Helping Packer’s cause are recent reports in the country that the government was in the process of amending as many as 21 acts in parliament, one of which is the Betting and Gaming Act. Should the amendments be successful, it could get the ball rolling for Packer to succeed in his apparently serious attempt in putting up a casino in the island nation.