Ravi Wijeratne, chairman of Rank Entertainment Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd., confirmed that he will be developing a 430-room casino hotel on a Colombo site owned by his company in a joint venture with Crown Ltd. He said cost estimates had risen to $400 million from $350 million. The partners aim to start construction by year end. The venture will target Chinese and Indian tourists, with rooms priced at $450-$500 a night. He said he will transfer the license from Rank's Star Dust Casino, which has 40 tables, to the new venture.
Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, investment promotion minister, told parliament that Crown will hold a 45 percent stake in the venture, which he said could create 2,600 jobs. He said obliquely : "This is not a casino business. This will be with a minimum 400-room star class hotel complex and related services including retail shopping, entertainment facilities, fine-dining restaurants, and meeting and convention facilities."'
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