Sri Lanka's John Keells Holdings was given investment approval on Thursday for an $850 million integrated resort in Colombo, which is widely expected to include a high- end casino and will compete with a similar project by Australia's Crown group. The investment promotions minister, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, announced tax concessions under Sri Lanka's strategic investments law for the project by the listed conglomerate. Abeywardena said if the project promoters wanted to bring a casino there was no bar, but the government would not license any new casinos. Officials did not elaborate on any specific foreign partner for the project, but Lakshman Jayaweera, director general of the state investment agency, said $300 million would be placed among international investors. Crown, run by Australian gambling mogul James Packer, is seeking approval for another gaming resort which will have a casino operated by its local partner, Ravi Wijeratne. Investment approval for the project is expected as early as late this month.
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