Casinos conflict with culture of Sri Lanka – Relocate them elsewhere


– by Shenali Waduge –

The religious texts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam all explicitly prohibit and discourages gambling and other such related vices. Nevertheless, numerous casinos have been operating in Sri Lanka over the years. It has now emerged that one of the world’s biggest and most famous casino operators is eyeing on setting up a mega casino complex in the heart of Colombo. A common census amongst the 3 main communities of Sri Lanka would like that due respect must be given to the cultures and values most of us still wish to uphold and would like to propose that ALL CASINOS be relocated to an exclusive area where foreign gamblers can even fly in and out without troubling the culture and affecting the lives of the people.

Many people who enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment don’t often think about the ethical or moral implications of their pastime but in a Third World country such as ours we need to look at the serious implications that such vices will result.

The question is not about the investment brought or the increase in the number of foreign visitors that would result. From the casinos operating already we know how ordinary citizens caught into the web of risk taking and gambling have ended up losing all at the cost of an entire family. This is an unbearable loss for any family whatever religion or race they belong to.

Of course amongst all the communities there are the elite few for whom gambling is a risk well worth taking and the losses are minimal compared to what they earn. Their number is miniscule in the context of the entire population of Sri Lanka. There is also a lot of black money floating which are spent on such endeavors given that banking such would lead to questions.

While we are aware that banning already existing casinos is impossible the best alternative in a win-win scenario is to have all these casinos relocated to a place like Kalpitiya where flights can operate for foreign gamblers in an area exclusively created for such activity but banned from local entry except for the local gamblers obtaining membership. This can be a Macau like scenario where large profits for the country can emerge but will not compromise on the culture and heritage that we wish to continue without tarnishing. The likely scenarios causing collapse of families promotes that we look into these ground realities first before resorting to damage control later.

From the rising examples of violence at nightclubs and the business accrued by brothels these are lessons that as a community we must come together and say NO to. We do not want our country to be turned into a brothel or casino paradise and we would remember at one time with the lack of monitoring of the tourists, Sri Lanka was once described as a pedophiles paradise and there were many catering children for profits.

These are all lessons that we need to learn from and not feel sorry afterwards. Every child is a child of Sri Lanka and we must nurture good citizens with good morals and values that respect the history and culture of Sri Lanka.

All governments should protect the most vulnerable in our society from casinos that exploit human weaknesses and addictions. This request is for the community leaders of all faiths to take up at higher levels

In the “Sigalovada Sutta: The Layman’s Code of Discipline.”, Buddha describes six evil consequences in indulging in gambling:

1. The winner begets hate,

2. The loser grieves for lost wealth,

3. The loss of wealth,

4. His word is not relied upon in a court of law,

5. He is despised by his friends and associates,

6.  He is not sought after for matrimony; for people would say he is a gambler and is not fit to look after a wife.

The Bhagawat Gita says “No illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication.”

The sacred text of Islam, The Holy Qur’an, says: “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination, – of Satan’s handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?” (Sura Ma’idah 5:90,91).