Poker in Sri Lanka

Gambling in Sri Lanka had always been around but regulation over it only started in 2010 with President Mahindra Rajapaksa who thought that licensing casinos would bring good revenue to the country.  A casino bill was then passed to give licenses to a handful of small casinos.

After the civil war ended in 2009, numerous foreigners, especially those coming from China, have been coming to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean for sightseeing and tourism.  

Seeing an opportunity, Rajapaksa decided to give 4 of the existing licenses to bigger casinos on the condition that the smaller casinos close the moment the bigger brands open.  He was hoping that the establishment of bigger international casino brands would bring in greater tourist revenues.  Included in these 4 were Crown Resorts, Sands Casino, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment.  But this decision was met by resistance from the Buddhist clergy and some politicians.  Concessions, which came in the form of raising gaming fees and increasing taxes, were made to appease the opposition.  And to discourage locals from developing a vice, Sri Lankans have to pay $100 to enter a casino.  

All this ended in 2014 when Maithripala Sirisena, who has strong support from the Buddhist clergy, won the elections.  Sirisena has pledged to stop the transfer of these 4 licenses to the bigger brands.  As of 2015, it had been reported that 3 of the projects had already been blocked from operating in the island country.

As for poker, two casinos offer poker games, namely, Bally’s Casino and Casino Marina, both located in Colombo. Regarding online poker, Sri Lankans are free to play on offshore sites as there is hardly any regulation regarding this matter.  This is mainly because internet access in Sri Lanka is scarce and serves as a natural hindrance to playing online.  But this may change as more people get access to the internet.

Article by Gabrielle Barredo

Capital : Colombo

Languages : English, Sinhalese, Tamil

Population : 20,28 million

Currency : Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)

Calling code : +94

  • Acces to all major Online Poker Sites
  • Opinion on the quality of internet in Sri Lanka varies widely. Some say it’s the best in the region, while others describe it in terms of multiple crying emoji.
  • 4 majors casinos are operating in the country
  • It’s not illegal for anyone play in online poker sites based offshore

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