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Crown’s Sri Lanka Casino Resort Venture to Cost $400 Million

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Oct. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Crown Ltd., Australia’s largest gambling company, said a casino resort it’s in talks over co-developing in Sri Lanka will cost about $400 million.

The five-star resort will have about 450 hotel rooms and suites at Beira Lake in the center of the capital Colombo, the Melbourne-based company said in a regulatory statement today. Crown, controlled by billionaire Chairman James Packer, also said it’s seeking joint venture partners for the project.

Sri Lanka, for decades a destination for backpackers, religious pilgrims and beach-lovers, is building high-end hotels and casinos to woo wealthier tourists from India and China as it seeks to emulate the success of Singapore and Macau. The resort will join a growing lineup of luxury Colombo hotels, including a $400 million beachfront Shangri-La, the Taj group’s upgraded five-star Samudra Colombo, and a John Keells Holdings Plc. gaming resort.

“It is Sri Lanka’s time to shine in Asia,” Packer said in the statement. The resort would “play a significant role in helping to drive increased international in-bound tourism, especially from India and China.”

Packer is also seeking to develop a hotel for high-rollers in Australia’s largest city Sydney, as well as projects in Macau and the Philippines via Crown’s 34 percent stake in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.

Crown also has a chance to build a resort in the Australian city of Brisbane after Queensland state’s government Oct. 14 said it would accept applications to redevelop a riverfront site in the state capital.

Crown is “very interested in pursuing an integrated resort in Brisbane,” Packer said in an e-mail last week, “but of course that depends on the Queensland government’s future regulatory framework and is still under consideration”.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Wong at swong139@bloomberg.net

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