Sri Lanka’s government has announced a doubling of the annual licence fee paid by the country’s land-based casinos and introduced new measures including a US$50 entry fee for customers and a casino turnover levy charged at 15 percent.
The licence fee change and turnover levy will come into effect from April 1 and the entry fee will be applicable from June 1, reported local media and Agence France-Presse, citing the government’s Tuesday budget announcement in parliament.
Annual licence fees for casinos will increase to LKR400 million (US$2.2 million) from LKR200 million.
The moves were among a number of so-called ‘sin taxes’ – including higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol – imposed with the aim of redistributing money to other parts of the economy, it was reported.
Another measure mentioned in the country’s budget was a 3.5-percent Nation Building Tax per transaction for anyone using an international credit card in Sri Lanka to purchase goods or services including “offshore digital services”.
According to Sri Lanka’s Department of Inland Revenue, the Nation Building Tax – known locally as NBT – was introduced in 2009 as a social contribution towards the welfare of security forces and to rebuild communities and infrastructure facilities affected by the country’s nearly 26-year-long civil war.
Last year Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena sacked the then prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Following the political crisis, Sri Lanka was subject to three credit downgrades, making international borrowing more expensive for the island.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said in his Tuesday speech that the budget deficit for calendar 2019 was estimated at 4.4 percent of gross domestic product, down from 5.3 percent last year.
Official figures show that Sri Lanka will have to repay a record US$5.9 billion in foreign loans in 2019, it was reported.
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Report from the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence
State of Victoria, Australia