Drop in North West gambling raises casino body’s resolve

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A sharp fall in North West’s gambling revenue has been used as extra ammunition to try to deny the province a further casino licence.

For the year ending March this year, the province’s gross gambling revenue (GGR) fell by 22% from the prior year, which was the biggest decline in gambling revenue across all nine provinces.

“We feel vindicated by this result because their GGR is the worst in the country and the gap is very big [22.1%] because the new biggest decline was at 2.4% which is Mpumalanga,” Casino Association of South Africa (Casa) CEO Themba Ngobese said.

The latest results have hardened Ngobese’s resolve to fight to get Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies to reconsider allocating an extra casino licence to North West.

Speaking to City Press this week, Ngobese said pleadings had not yet closed as an answering affidavit from one of the respondents, the North West Gambling Board (NWGB), was outstanding.

Davies created a 41st licence and allocated it to North West after that province’s number of casino licences decreased when Morula Sun casino was re-demarcated to Gauteng, meaning the revenue generated from it was lost to Gauteng.

Casa has argued in court papers seen by City Press that no socioeconomic study was ever done to justify the additional licence and that the Morula Sun licence was never really lost despite the province having one less casino to generate revenue from.

Another reason, Casa argued was that the decision promoted instability and negatively influenced investor confidence.

Ngobese also said North West could do without an additional casino as that province’s economy was in a downward spiral.

The province also contributed R213 million in gambling taxes, levies and VAT, the fifth-largest contribution among all the provinces.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) opted not to comment on the matter.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to comment because the matter is before the court and therefore sub judice,” said the DTI’s Bongani Lukhele.

NWGB’s CEO Fortune Sekgaphane did not respond to numerous efforts to get comment on the matter and at the time of going to print, the emailed questions, which were acknowledged, were not responded to.

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