The Sri Lankan government is raising licensing fees for gambling establishments, imposing a turnover tax and will charge entrance fees to casinos.
Operating gambling establishments in Sri Lanka will have to pay higher annual licensing fees this year, said Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera. The increased fee is included in the 2019 budget for Sri Lanka, which was presented today.
Each licensed casino currently operating in Sri Lanka was required to pay an annual license fee of Rs 200 million (about US $ 1.1 million). In search of additional revenue for the country’s treasury, lawmakers decided to double this fee to 400 million rupees.
In addition, licensed casino operators will be required to pay an annual 15% gambling turnover tax. The new tax will come into effect on April 1.
Minister Samaravir said yesterday that the Sri Lankan government has also decided to introduce admission fees for people visiting the country’s land-based casinos. Starting June 1st, gambling establishments will collect an entry fee of $ 50 per person per visit. Responding to comments regarding the new fee policy, Minister Samaravira said that two licensed Singapore casinos have such fees, which are higher than those introduced under the new budget in Sri Lanka.
In Singapore, citizens and permanent residents are charged a 24-hour admission fee of US $ 100 or an annual fee of US $ 2,000.
Expected impact on the local casino industry
An increase in license fees and a new turnover tax will certainly have a negative impact on the Sri Lankan gambling industry, however, analysts believe the casino entrance fee could have the biggest impact on the sector.
Experts said that the need to pay an entry fee will deter players, especially Sri Lankans, from gambling at local casinos.
Sri Lanka, a small South Asian island country, has attracted considerable interest from players and operators from all over the world over the years. Back in 2013, Australian gambling and hospitality operator Crown Resorts confirmed that active negotiations were underway with the country’s government to create a resort complex with a casino in the capital, Colombo.
Gambling giant Las Vegas Sands was also ready to enter the Sri Lankan market after a failed Indian expansion, according to media reports. Analysts have linked MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. with Indian gaming group Delta Corp. and suggested that the companies are negotiating joint ventures for the potential development of casino resorts. Delta Corp operates a casino in Colombo.
In early 2015, the newly sworn-in administration of Sri Lanka reportedly canceled three major casino projects that had been given the green light by their predecessors.