James Packer knows that his hotel project in Sri Lanka might not have a casino in it, but that didn’t stop hundreds of Sri Lankan opposition party members from marching in protest in Colombo, calling on the government to make its “no-casino” policy iron-clad.
You can probably excuse the paranoia of the opposition, a lot of whom believe that the government’s amendment of gazette notifications on Crown’s and two other resort projects to exclude “gaming” is nothing more than lip service, created with the intention of misdirecting the public for a future turnaround.
“If the government is saying casinos are not allowed for these projects, why can’t government include that clearly and mention in the gazette that these projects will not be permitted to operate casinos?” Harsha de Silva, a United National Party (UNP) legislator told the media at the protest, as quoted by Reuters.
So there they were, a group of protestors led by members of the opposition UNP, marching to the make their voices heard at the site of the proposed hotel project Crown is developing with local partner Rank Entertainment Holdings.
The protest came just as the country’s parliament began debating the pros and cons of Crown’s $400 million project. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said all the right things to the media, and was even quoted as recently as last Thursday saying these “new hotel projects will not have any casinos.”
But even if Crown isn’t granted a casino license, Packer does have a potential loophole if the government honors existing casino licenses held by two Sri Lankan businessmen. One of those two individuals is Ravi Wijeratne, who owns Rank Entertainment Holdings.