The government of Sri Lanka has approved a plan by Australian gaming mogul James Packer’s Crown Resorts for a 0 million mixed-development complex, along with two similar projects.
While the approval does not include express permission to operate casinos at any of the three projects, Sri Lanka Deputy Investment Promotion Minister Faizer Mustapha said Packer would be permitted to operate a casino in his project through a local partner, according to a Reuters report.
The government altered the terms of Packer’s deal after critics in the government complained that Packer was receiving concessions not offered to local entrepreneurs.
The Crown project and two others—by Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings and local businessman Dhammika Perera—are not approved overtly as casino projects.
“The applications are for mixed development projects, which include convention centers, shopping malls, and five-star hotels,” Mustapha told Reuters. “This gazette notification has no mention about a casino anywhere. So it doesn’t deal with running a casino, operating a casino, or approving a casino.
It appears that each project is going to have a separate casino partner that already possesses a Sri Lankan casino license. Two entities currently hold approvals for the five existing casinos on the island. Packer’s partner in the resort, Ravi Wijeratne, owns two of the casinos, and Perera owns the other three. Perera is also working with John Keells to account for all the approved resorts
Mustapha said a separate mechanism for operating a casino exists under regulations passed in 2010, which would apply to this situation.