The Business Times reliably learns that Mr. Packer is considering his next step –whether to go ahead as a project without a casino or pull out- while there was no clear indication from other two project owners about the ‘casino’ status altogether.
“As stated by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in Parliament on April 24, the government will not allow casinos to operate in the country,” Faizer Mustapha, Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion told a hurriedly, convened media conference in Colombo on Friday.
The three projects are Packer’s mixed development project in collaboration with his local partner casino owner Ravi Wijeratne; the Queensbury project by local businessmen Dhammika Perera and John Keells Holdings. He told journalists the three investors have expressed concern over widespread protests of the opposition against the implementation of the Strategic development projects. The order passed under the Strategic Development Projects Act has no reference whatsoever on casinos, he revealed. Mr. Mustapha pointed out that such protests will send negative signals to foreign investors. Investment Promotion Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardana told the Business Times that James Packer has so far not informed the government of his decision following the ban on casinos in these projects.