Colombo, Nov 10 (DAP) Sri Lanka’s parliament Wednesday passed legislation to legalise betting and gambling, saying the move would help to attract tourists following the end of the decades-long civil war on the island.
Casinos and betting operations have to obtain a licence, which will come into effect as of 2012 or face fines of up to $45,000 or a jail term of up to five years.
Designated zones for gambling are to be set up, the government said.
The opposition United National Party (UNP), objected to the new law, saying it would encourage other vices such as prostitution.
‘The government is trying to legalise an illegal activity,’ UNP lawmaker Joseph Michael Perera said. ‘Prostitution is legal in some countries so is the government going to legalise prostitution as well?’
The government defended its move, arguing the laws only legalise activities, such as gambling and betting on horse races, that are already taking place in the country.
‘The casinos will help to attract more foreign tourists to the country,’ Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said.