Gotta capture that foreign dollar.
This is one of the most awesome countries in the world, Sri Lanka. And anyone who has been there would agree with that.
Well, now you can gamble there. Legally.
Sri Lanka’s parliament passed a law Wednesday to legalize gambling, despite strong criticism from opposition lawmakers who charged it would increase prostitution in the conservative Buddhist nation.
Lawmakers said that President Mahinda Rajapakse, who also acts as the minister of finance, to grant licenses to set up betting establishments in specified areas.
Look. Fact is casinos and horse-racing bookies have been operating in Sri Lanka for years, exploiting loopholes in the law to evade an official ban on gambling.
But the new law would regulate gambling and harness its potential to boost tourism, which has soared since May last year after the end to the island’s ethnic civil war.
Those who are against the law have had this to say: “What this law does is not only legalize gambling, but also legalizes prostitution,” Jayasekera said. Some casinos in the city are known as pick-up haunts for prostitutes.
With the new law, the government says gambling outlets must obtain licenses by 2012 or cease to operate.
Violators will face a fine of $45,000 and a five-year jail term.
The bill provides “for the designation of areas in which persons intending to start the business of gaming can set up their establishments”.
Some of the country’s cities already boast vibrant nightlife.
But Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is out to create more entertainment venues to attract high-spending foreign and domestic fun-seekers, although it recently banned billboards showing scantily-clad women following protests by Buddhist monks.
The number of tourists visiting the island has jumped by nearly 50 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of 2010, after the end of nearly four decades of conflict.
So, if you are ever in that part of the world, do yourself a favor.
Go to Sri Lanka.
Give it a few months and gamble.