casinos being given too many chances?
lies covered with long thick gunnies adjoining Hotel Ranmuthu in
is like a true goni billa — this new building near a premier
boy’s school, S. Thomas’ Preparatory School,
Colombo 3 — a school that
is reputed for its strict discipline and high standards of
education for boys from grade one to the G. C. E. Ordinary Level.
all the gunnies come down you can bet anything on it — out of it will
spring a plush casino with a free flow of liquor, violence and of course
nobody knows anything about it yet — it could be a clothes boutique, a
bank or even an optometry.
the truth will make one’s eyes pop out; for this building with its
thick exterior is being renovated and furbished so that the night lights
can shine during morn and noon.
building? I don’t know anything about it. Which building? Where?”
asked the Principal, S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, N.Y. Cassiechetty,
shocked and amazed when asked how he feels about having to love a
neighbour that is a plush casino just next door.
we have it from the horse’s mouth so to speak it indeed is a casino
that is coming up right next to the school. (See box)
close upon 1000 curious schoolboys in and around the place, this newest
casino is expected to come under ‘fresh and vibrant’ study.
Ceylinco Group, Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala who has been
responsible for several mega projects that have resulted in an
accelerating development of this country was appalled when told that he
will soon have this plush casino next to his intended mega housing
apartment project near Hotel Ranmuthu.
“This is the first time I am hearing about it,” he said,
surprised, when told about his ‘secret’ neighbour to be.
this is so the government has to take a policy decision on these
casinos,” said Kotelawala who went on to say that the casino culture
is not the culture for Sri Lanka.
casting aspersions on the present casinos, I wish to say that casinos
generally imply drugs, prostitution and violence. Casinos create a doubt
in the minds in any country in the world and that is why many countries
do not want casinos — it is because of the criminal activities
associated with them,” pointed out this businessman.
concerned Kotelawala said that Sri Lanka has just come out of a 20 year
old war. “There are 36000 army deserters and society has become
brutalised at a time when we are talking about peace and economic
resurgence. We have to take measures to ensure that we do not become
a Chicago-style society with mobsters,
gangsters and people of the underworld roaming around. This could
be tragic, nothing could be worse than this. The government, the
citizens and the opposition should
set a moral code and build a society free from violence,” asserted
casino curse is like a ‘spell’ over the city of Colombo. Casinos are
mushrooming so fast that people will soon run out of luck.
But where is the authority that controls these dens? How many of
these pay the annual Finance Ministry levy? How many of these casinos
are legal and operating with a licence? Almost none.
is noon and Bally’s Casino at 14, Dharmapala Mawatha is a hive of
activity. Men and women wining and winning are a scene out of a glossy
magazine on Vegas.
Dust at Galle Road, Colombo 3, Bellagio Casino at R. A De Mel
Mawatha, Colombo 3, Grand Casino at 772 Galle Road, Colombo 4 are some
of the hot spots in the city and the Ritz
Club at Galle Face Terrace, Red Star at Galle Road, Colombo 4 are
other grand venues.
are also the little brother type of casinos like the Region at
Nugget at Mudalige Mawatha in Fort,
Supsara Club at Malwatte Road, Pettah,
Crown Club at Olcott Mawatha, Pettah
Atlantic at Bambalapitiya,
Red Star in Colombo 4, Dominion
in Nugegoda, Luxor in
Kollupitiya and the list goes on.
from being unlicenced they do not pay any gaming levy to the government
— that is approximately Rs. 12 million each. For six unlicenced
casinos the total levy lost is an estimated Rs. 72 million.
employees of these casinos speaking to The Sunday Leader said
that they are stunned and shocked at the money thrown in — won and
lost — when they do not even get their EPF or ETF or even a proper
salary. There are estimated to be around 2500 employees in these casinos
— a majority of them being young men
few of these casinos pay their licence fees. They are being carried out
with the patronage of the police,” said Deputy Mayor, Colombo
Municipal Council, Azath Sally.
Deputy Mayor said that there is no fear
of the authorities
in this country today. “Unauthorised constructions are coming up and
so are the casinos,” said Sally who went on to say that many
foreigners are coming to Sri Lanka and that they ought to be protected
“There must be everything in this country but they ought to be
confined to an area, they ought to be done legally and looked after
equally — be it casinos, health centers or anything,” pointed out
Chairman, Board of Governors, S. Thomas’
Preparatory School, Rt. Rev.
Bishop Duleep De Chickera, the Anglican Bishop of Colombo said that
neither he nor the headmaster
of S. Thomas’
Prep. School are aware that a casino is coming up adjoining the
this is the case, it is certainly not desirable and can have an adverse
impact on children in their formative years,” the Bishop pointed out.
went on to say that the growing casino culture in the city concerns all
religions and said that it is timely that the state initiates a
conversation with civil
society, particularly religious leaders, educationists, and all others
concerned — especially academics and professionals to study the pros
and cons of this situation.
common man however does not by any means wish to stand in luck’s way.
But if this trend goes on then surely the die will be cast and peace and
sanity will die a natural death as the red lights take over.
are the laws? It is time to straighten them for the time has come for
it, for our society cannot afford to take any more chances.
The name behind the newest casino
Mahinda Ramanayake when contacted by The Sunday Leader said
that he is an industrialist and owns a restaurant and has only a
partnership at this newest casino that is in the making adjoining
“I don’t like to do this kind of
business, but one of my friends invited me to join in this new
project and I agreed,” said Ramanayake, not wanting to comment
any further on the issue.