In Sri Lanka, casino gambling and other forms of gambling have been in existence for long, but a proper legal framework for regulating and controlling the industry was only laid down in 2010. For a large part, the reason for this is that the country was in a civil war for almost 27 years between 1983 and 2009, which also meant economic hardships for the government and the country in general. Under these circumstances, proper regulation of the gambling industry was not on the government’s agenda. However, many gambling providers operated in the country during these years, although in somewhat of a grey area. The major ones paid their income taxes properly – this is part of the reason that the government turned a blind eye to their operations.
However, in recent years a lot was happening in the field of gambling, especially casino gambling in Sri Lanka.
In 2010, a law titled Casino Business Act was passed by the administration of President Rajapaksa which established a legal framework for controlling and licensing casinos and betting shops. Gambling previously occupied a grey area in the country and this pretty much deterred foreign investment, although quite a few casinos in Sri Lanka were in operation during this era. After 2010, the former president Mahendra Rajapaksa broke deals with three major international casino operators to establish luxury hotel-casino complexes in the country. The three operation would’ve totalled an estimated $1.6 billion*.
However, after the new president Maithripala Sirisena was elected earlier this year he clamped down on the gambling industry by first cancelling the casino licences of the three planned operations, than increasing levy on betting shops as well as introducing a casino entry levy of $100, through an amendment to the Betting and Gaming Levy Act**. He also stated, that his administration does not plan to issue further licenses to gambling operators, but they do allow providers licensed under the 2010 law to continue operations.
Online gambling is currently a grey area. Sri Lanka’s internet penetration is quite low (an estimated 25.8%), so it’s by no means a huge online gambling market. There is a robust internet censoring system in place, but it targets mainly political and adult content.
Players of foreign online gambling sites face no penalties in Sri Lanka and the government doesn’t restrict access to any such platform to date, although no online gambling website offers games in Sri Lanka’s two official languages, Sinhala and Tamil.
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- Casino gambling in Sri Lanka
- Bingo in Sri Lanka
- Poker in Sri Lanka
- Sports betting in Sri Lanka
- Lottery in Sri Lanka
- Bitcoin gambling in Sri Lanka
- Online gambling websites accepting players from Sri Lanka
Casino gambling in Sri Lanka
Online casino gambling in Sri Lanka: not regulated
Casinos have been operating in Sri Lanka for the past decades, although the the legal climate was constantly shifting. The new legislation enacted in 2010 showed promise for the Sri Lanka casino industry, but the new president’s drastic provisions in this area don’t bode well for the Sri Lanka casino scene. Of the three investors behind the planned hotel and casino complexes only one, the Water Front Properties of John Keells Holding company confirmed, that it would proceed with the plans without a casino space.
There are currently several casinos in Sri Lanka, which are available for tourists and locals alike. Almost all of them are located in the capital, Colombo and many is named after famous Las Vegas casinos, such as Belaggio, Stardust and MGM.
Online gambling, on the other hand is unregulated in the country, so Sri Lankan players are free to gamble on any foreign online casino that accepts their registrations.
Bingo in Sri Lanka
Online bingo in Sri Lanka: not regulated
Currently, no land based casino in Sri Lanka offers bingo games to it’s players. There are also no reported legal bingo halls in the country.
However, online gambling in Sri Lanka is unregulated, therefore players from the country are free to play on any foreign online bingo sites.
Poker in Sri Lanka
Online poker in Sri Lanka: not regulated
Most of the major land based casinos in Sri Lanka offer poker and other sorts of table games to their players. These are the only venues in the country where real money poker can be played legally.
Online poker, on the other hand is not regulated, so players from Sri Lanka are free to access and play on foreign online poker sites.
Sports betting in Sri Lanka
Online sports betting in Sri Lanka: not regulated
Land based betting shops are legal and regulated in Sri Lanka. One of the oldest chains is Sporting Times, which is in operation since the ’50s*. The 2010 regulation tightened government control over the betting scene in the country. However, the current administration of Maithripala Sirisena capped the market, as they made it clear, that they have no intention to issue licenses to more operators, apart from the ones already legally present on the market.
Horse betting has been a huge sensation in the country historically, but it was banned in the ’70s due to being deemed immoral. After that, players turned to wagering on British horse races placing bets with illegal bookmakers. Currently, the most popular kind of sport that Sri Lankan punters wager on is Cricket, which is the national sport in the country.
There are no restrictions on foreign online bookmakers, so players from Sri Lanka are free to use any of the major online platforms to place bets on international sporting events.
Lottery in Sri Lanka
Online lottery in Sri Lanka: there is a national lottery with no online platform, foreign sites are not regulated
The National Lottery Board offers ten different lottery games, the oldest of which is Mahajana Sampatha, which is in operation since 1970 and the highest price it offers starts progressing from 10 million Sri Lankan Rupees (approx. $700,000)*. None of the ten lotteries have an online platform.
Although, the National Lotteries Board is the only legal provider of lottery games in the country, online gambling in not regulated in Sri Lanka, therefore player are free to participate on foreign online lottery draws from the country.
*Source: Natinal Lotteries Board of Sri Lanka
Bitcoin gambling in Sri Lanka
Bitcoin gambling in Sri Lanka: not regulated
The government of Sri Lanka has no laws in place restricting the use of Bitcoin in any way, nor does it regulate online gambling. Therefore, Sri Lankan players are free to gamble on foreign online Bitcoin casinos and other sorts of Bitcoin gambling platforms.
Online gambling websites accepting players from Sri Lanka
Online gambling is not specifically regulated under Sri Lankan law, therefore players from the country are free to access foreign gambling platforms and most of the major players of the international online gambling scene allow players from Sri Lanka to register on their sites.
The following online casinos and bookmakers accept players from Sri lanka.
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Last updated: 2015. 10. 28.