Active players: 2.000.000
Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)
Regulated gambling products: Land-based casinos
Designated authority: No designated gambling authority
Operator types: Land-based casinos, unlicensed online bookies and casinos
Status: Regulated (land-based gambling only)
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon up until 1972, is an island country in South Asia. It has a very rich history, posing at a strategic location since the ancient Silk Road trade years. Being under Portuguese, Dutch and British occupation, it was eventually liberated in 1948.
A 26-year-long civil war then rocked the country, until 2009. However, gambling in Sri Lanka has always seemed to find its place in the local culture. After gaining its independence and until the political unrest, one could already find many casinos and betting shops or bet at the horse race tracks.
All this was brought under a regulatory framework just in 2010. That was when all forms of gambling became legal, under appropriate licensing. As for online betting, Sri Lanka does not have laws covering it. It is treated as being legal though and no restrictions are in place.
However, there are no licensed bookmakers operating locally. Even one of local players' favorite, STBet, does not hold a domestic license. Betting in Sri Lanka though is rapidly gaining a big online fan base through the international betting sites that operate in the country.
Best Betting Sites in Sri Lanka
With no restrictions from the authorities around online betting, we list the best Sri Lanka bookmakers players may access. You will find some of the best cricket betting sites that provide a wide variety of markets, along with high odds and appealing promotions.
Gambling in Sri Lanka - 5 Things to Know
- 1 Casinos operate in Colombo and betting shops in most major cities
- 2 There are no locally licensed bookmakers
- 3 The ‘Casino Business Act’ came into effect in 2010
- 4 Cricket, football, volleyball and horse racing are the most popular sports
- 5 The online gambling sector falls under no legal framework
Online Betting in Sri Lanka: The Legal Framework
For quite a long period, gambling in Sri Lanka was taking place under no legal framework. Horse racing, for instance, was attracting many gamblers way before the country formed a republic, in 1972. However, it was not until 2010 that the Casino Business Act was put in place.
Up till then, betting shops and a few infamous casinos were still welcoming both locals and tourists. According to the 2010 law, operators had to obtain a license by early 2013, or else they ought to stop operating. If anyone offered gambling services of any kind without a proper state license, would face fines and up to 5 years imprisonment.
The law is plain, yet strict. It is not allowing gambling in populous urban areas, or near schools and temples. Taxation is rather heavy too, with casinos paying a 15% tax on their GGR. A 2.2 million USD licensing fee applies every year too. Still though, the law seems to address land-based casinos mainly.
There are no special provisions on betting and lotteries; which are also very popular here. Operators need to obtain a state license before offering their services. The online sector has also been left untouched. With no legal framework to limit it in any way, online betting in Sri Lanka has been attracting more and more players.
The state does absolutely nothing to prevent or control it and there are no prosecutions of players. There are no locally licensed online bookies and locals are enjoying the services of top international bookmakers, like Pinnacle Sri Lanka.
Essential Information for Bettors
It is important to know that winnings from any gambling get taxed. Whether it’s Sri Lanka betting, casino, or lottery winnings; a 14% tax applies. Moreover, the legal age to enter gambling premises is 18, and there’s an entrance fee for casinos.
That’s approximately 50 USD, applying to both tourists and locals. On the other hand, Sri Lanka's online betting is not monitored by the authorities. Meaning that your online winnings shall stay in your pocket with no application taxes. All betting shops you may come across in Colombo and other cities will most probably be legal.
Still, be wary of any unlicensed ones and generally stick to crowded, popular premises. In general, always keep in mind that it’s better to access online Sri Lanka betting sites. If you do so, you will get higher odds and a much greater variety of sports to bet on.
Sri Lanka Betting: How to Deposit at Online Bookies
Quite a few payment methods are available to players. First, you need to know that you shall face no problems at all when using your bank account or credit/debit cards. There are no restrictions and online gambling in Sri Lanka is typically not illegal.
Moreover, e-wallets are always a great solution when betting online. Since the vast majority of bookmakers do not support Sri Lankan rupee accounts; it’s good to pick the payment method that suits you best.
Sticpay, Skrill, Neteller, and Ecopayz betting sites are all offering their services to Sri Lankans. By using an e-wallet you also get to keep your anonymity. This might prove useful if the government ever decides to restrict online gambling or consider it as being illegal.
Gambling Regulations in Neighbouring Countries
Looking into the guidelines set by closeby regions helps you deeper understand how online gambling works. Below, you can find a list of some noteworthy instances:
⏩ Pakistan: Only of type of horse (tote) betting is allowed in the country. All other forms have been banned and players can face prosecution if they are caught playing online. However, the absence of a regulatory body means that there are dozens of Pakistan betting sites operating relatively freely.
⏩ Bangladesh: The Gambling Act of 1867, which states that gambling is illegal, still applies in the region. However, since it obviously does not mention the online sector, players are unbothered if they want to register at Bangladesh betting sites.
⏩ Maldives: Being an Islamic state means that gambling is strictly prohibited. Local authorities focus a lot on closing down illegal, land-based dens but overlook the Maldives betting sites. Until now, no notable action has been taken against those playing online.
The Future of Online Gambling in Sri Lanka
The newly elected government back in 2015, didn’t actually hold a friendly stance towards gambling. It almost immediately raised taxes as well as entrance fees to casinos. It even cancelled agreements for casino resorts that were just about to be built. Generally speaking, the state seems to be just happy with collecting license fees and taxes from land-based operators.
As for online betting, Sri Lanka still seems unwilling to issue licenses or regulate the sector. Compared to most neighbouring countries, it is still as friendly as it gets. However, it will probably not develop much in the near future, at least in terms of online gambling.
The Complete List of Bookmakers in Sri Lanka
After analyzing every aspect of the local gambling scene; we list all the online bookmakers that accept Sri Lankan players.
All bookmakers that we list in our analysis are famous globally and licensed by the most prominent gambling authorities. Just stick to these ones and enjoy a safe betting experience.
22Bet is a popular renowned bookmaker which offers its services to Sri Lankan players. Apart from a vast selection of sports to bet on; it also allows you to open and keep an LKR account.
The 2010 law doesn’t mention the online gambling sector at all. So, typically, online betting is legal. Plus, no players’ prosecutions have ever been reported for betting on the web. So, you may just join the thousands of bettors who are already placing their wagers online.
Many top bookmakers accept Sri Lankans; however, should we have to pick one, that would be 1xBet. It allows you to bet on your local currency, while offering a wide array of betting markets and a huge 98% payout on the major football leagues.
It’s a fact that, ever since gambling got regulated in the country, a 14% tax has been imposed on winnings. It applies to lottery, casino and betting winnings. Nonetheless, you can avoid it by simply betting online. Surveillance is practically non-existent, therefore you will keep all you win.
With some of the biggest in-play betting options and countless events available for live streaming; Bet365 Sri Lanka is one of the most renowned online bookies that welcome local bettors.
Online transactions are not under close supervision; so, when placing your online bets you have plenty of options. However, e-wallets, like Skrill, Ecopayz and Neteller, ensure fast withdrawal times, low fees and anonymity.