A senior minister yesterday clarified the terms of James Packer’s US$ 350 million mixed development project and said despite several allegations the government has granted the Australian gaming giant with standard tax concessions under the Strategic Development Act and not a license for a casino.
The Australian gaming tycoon, who would transfer an existing casino to his development project with his local partner Rank Holdings, was to capture the massive potential in India while many other gamers are eyeing ways to directly enter the Indian market.
Minister of Investment Promotions Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that the government has not granted casino license recently, and said James Packer’s and his local partner Rank Holdings was not granted such a license.
Packer would hold 45 percent of the mixed development project in Colombo while his local partner Rank Holdings would have a stake of 55 percent, according to the minister.
He said, knowing Packer is one on the renowned gaming tycoons mainly in to casino business there was a possibility that he and his local partner could transfer an existing casino license to operate within the upcoming development project.
He also said, despite several allegations raised in the recent past over the entry of Australia’s gaming tycoon being granted high tax concessions, the Board of Investment has only granted concessions according to the Strategic Development Act.
James Packer and his local partner would enjoy a 12 year tax concession which was granted to both local and international investors who invest more than US$ 250 million.
"Packer is not enjoying high tax concessions, he has only been granted 12 years on the condition he develops a mixed development project and creates more than 2,600 direct jobs. On the other hand, which would be developed as Sri Lanka’s first ever seven star hotel with an investment of more than US$ 500 million, Shangri-La, was granted 50 years of tax concession," he said.
According to Forbes, while the big Las Vegas operators struggle to find a way into the Indian market, there may be better prospects elsewhere in the region. Entering Sri Lanka, a vibrant island nation in the Indian Ocean would be a favorable gateway to capitalize on the potential existing in India.
Forbes noted that Sri Lanka’s current gaming industry was interesting. Only a few small casino establishments exist in the capital city of Colombo, most of which have been in operation for the best part of 30 years, catering to a select mix of locals and tourists.