Sri Lanka issues casino rules, JKH strikes deal with casino operator for 800-room integrated hotel

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Sri Lankan government under President Ranil Wickremesinghe has published rules to regularise gaming under a 2010 law, issuing licenses for up to 20 years, according to two gazette notices as first reported by local media. A five-year renewable license would cost 500 million Lankan rupees.

This decision comes during a tough period for the country, which is officially bankrupt and was experiencing serious shortages of food, commodities and fuel till a few months back.  Businesses could also apply for longer periods in multiples of five years up to 20 years with fees paid upfront. Licenses would have to make sure that “soliciting for the purpose of prostitution” does not take place within the premises.

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Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings will finalize a deal with a casino operator for its Cinnamon Life integrated resort, Chairman Krishan Balendra said after the government issued rules to regularize gaming, reported island-based Economy Next

“As the Government has gazetted the legal framework and regulations for gaming, we will finalize arrangements with a license holder and operator to rent the designated casino area at Cinnamon Life,” Balendra was quoted. “Then we will begin fitting out and equipping the space.”

According to an independent research firm, CAL Research, a 5-star hotel in an integrated resort usually earns 50 per cent more room rents than a stand-alone one. Cinnamon Life is expected to open in the first half of 2023 and the casino in 2024.

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JKH is expected to get rent and a share of the profits of the casino, in addition to higher occupancy for its 800-room hotel and more patrons for the mall. “Cinnamon Life will transform Colombo as a leisure and entertainment destination for the region, and lead to substantial foreign exchange earnings for the country,” Balendra was quoted by Economy Next. Amid financial crises,  Sri Lanka’s tourism sector has earned close to $900 million in the first eight months of 2022.