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By Saman Indrajith

Leader of the 43 Brigade and newly formed United Republic Front MP Champilka Ranawaka says that the government is planning to issue seven new casino licences.

“Arrangements are being made to issue seven new licences while the Finance Ministry and other responsible institutions have failed to collect at least a single dollar as tax revenue for the past 28 years from four casino licenses that had already been issued,” Ranawaka said on Tuesday (23) participating in the second reading debate on the Betting and Gaming Levy (Amendment) Bill.

“Casinos have been in operation in this country for the past 28 years. If we go through available records it is discernible that casinos have not even operated properly as per regulations. Many have been functioning above the laws and regulations in a very haphazard manner. There are only four of them that have been operating under proper licensing. They too have not paid their due taxes to the government. Several types of taxes are levied on casinos. The four casinos have circumvented the regulations and refrained from paying a single dollar as taxes during the past 28 years. Without streamlining the tax collecting means to make the existing four casinos comply with the regulations, the government is planning to give seven more licenses. Increasing the number of casinos has nothing to do with promoting tourism because in countries such as Singapore, and Malaysia, each has only three to four casinos while their tourism performs better than us. You do not need hundreds of casinos to attract tourists but only well regulated, properly functioning few which regularly pay their due taxes to the government,” Ranawaka said.

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