Moratorium placed on bingo terminals ‘hard’ gambling opportunity

2015-06-23 10:35
Zaid Ismail Bayat holds up the petition to stop the bingo hall opening at the Brookside Mall.

Zaid Ismail Bayat holds up the petition to stop the bingo hall opening at the Brookside Mall. (Jonathan Burton)

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ATTEMPTING to reassure angered Pietermaritzburg residents, the KZN Treasury said a moratorium had been placed on electronic bingo terminals in the province.

Last week, more than 300 members of the lower CBD community added their names to a petition to stop the proposed establishment of bingo terminals at the city’s Brookside Mall.

Residents said the terminals would cause wide-scale financial problems in an already impoverished community, which could result in a spike in crime if a gambling centre was available to the public.

Responding to a query by The Witness, KZN Treasury spokesperson Ntokoza Maphisa made reference to the court action taken by Finance MEC Belinda Scott and Premier Senzo Mchunu in their bid to stop the issuing of licences for terminals by the KZN Gaming and Betting Board across the province.

“The court application was premised on the grounds that the decision by the board was procedurally unlawful, and violated an executive directive. The matter has since become complex in that various parties have joined the matter,” Maphisa said.

“An unintended consequence of intervention by other parties … is that it has delayed the finalisation of the government case.”

Scott said the KZN Gaming and Betting Board amended the conditions of bingo licences, so as to allow the licencees to deploy electronic bingo terminals at their premises.

“I had clearly, in writing, informed the board that I intended to amend the bingo regulations because I, and the provincial executive, firmly believe that the current regulations will allow the bingo industry to negatively impact upon society …” Scott said.

“I therefore requested the board to take no decisions relating to electronic bingo terminals, until the bingo regulations had been amended, which the request was ignored … I intend to amend the bingo regulations so as to limit the impact of this ‘hard’ gambling opportunity.”

Maphisa said Scott was steadfast in her position that the province will not permit gaming machines in poverty-stricken areas and in establishments easily accessible by the general population.

THE current legislation of the province defines electronic bingo terminals as a sub-type of gaming machine.

“What electronic bingo terminals in bingo outlets therefore represent, is a fast-paced, high stakes and unlimited prize gambling opportunity, which thus far has only been on offer at the province’s five casinos,” said Finance MEC Belinda Scott.

“This is in stark contrast to traditional bingo, which is played at a leisurely pace and on limited payout machines, where the stake limit is R5 and the single prize limit is R500. I intend to amend the bingo regulations so as to limit the impact of this ‘hard’ gambling opportunity”.

However, Scott said she does not intend to ban EBTs. “Regulating the gambling industry is a highly complex affair, which amongst many other things entails striking a sensible balance between numerous stakeholder groups, of which the anti-gambling lobby is but one such group …”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  gambling

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