Sri Lanka has become one of Asia’s most promising economies in recent times, yet the potential of it’s gambling sector is only starting to gain recognition amongst international operators looking to expand their presence in Asia.
While the big Las Vegas operators struggle to find a way into the Indian market, there may be better prospects elsewhere in the region. Enter Sri Lanka, a vibrant island nation in the Indian Ocean, opportunely situated within 4 hours flight of India’s major cities. The end of a gory civil war in 2009 has since resulted in visible increases in tourist arrivals and foreign investment, giving rise to Sri Lanka as one of Asia’s most promising economies. Yet as Sri Lanka continues to attract FDI across various other sectors, the island’s gaming market is only just starting to garner interest from foreign players as a viable gateway into India and the greater region.
Sri Lanka’s current gaming industry is 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. In 2010, the government designated special legalized gambling zones in an attempt to attract new operators. Tax concessions have also been offered to large-scale hospitality projects seen to bring considerable investment to the country, as was given to Shangri-La’s upcoming hotel developments.
For the time being, gambling in Sri Lanka may be seen as a far cry from the glitz and glamour found in the mega-casinos of Macau or Singapore, but the island’s positive outlook towards gaming could be a welcoming sign for the likes of Las Vegas Sands and others seeking further expansion in Asia. With a thirst for foreign investment and a cooperative government, Sri Lanka could have the potential to follow the footsteps of what Macau has become in recent times – a $38 billion per year jackpot.