‘Pretoria casino is a sure bet’

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Menlyn Casino 1023

Supplied.

A model of Menlyn Maine on the left where Sun International wants to move its Morula Sun casino. Separated by two thoroughfares, Menlyn Mall is on the right.

Pretoria - Hotel and casino chain Sun International has promised that its proposed R3 billion development, Time Square at Menlyn Maine in Pretoria east, will become a must-see, must-do attraction for the city.

The company was making its presentation before the Gauteng Gambling Board on the first day of public hearings yesterday.

It has applied for an amendment of its licence and the relocation of Morula Sun Casino and Hotel from Mabopane to Menlyn Maine, a new R8bn mixed-use development.

Sun International told the board the development would serve as a vital catalyst for local tourism in line with the vision of the City of Tshwane.

The proposed relocation came about after an assessment showed no new marketing efforts or gaming strategy could reverse the decline of Morula Sun, it said.

Development expansion could also not be justified in its current location. In the absence of a relocation, Morula Sun may survive but would never deliver on the full potential of its Gauteng-based casino licence.

A strategic decision was taken to relocate Morula Sun to the new development – Time Square at Menlyn Maine – which will include a five-star hotel, casino and an arena bigger than the Sun City Superbowl, with 8 000 seats, Sun International said.

Pleading Sun International’s case, chief executive Graeme Stephens said the development would benefit the government by creating significantly more employment and taxes and it would enhance black economic empowerment (BEE).

The hotel would have 100 rooms and 10 suites, and the casino would open with 2 000 slot machines and 60 tables. There would also be a sport and entertainment bar, about six restaurants, shops and fast-food outlets as well as a conference centre.

At least six months would be required to facilitate the process for design development and tendering, from the day of approval.

Construction would be in a single phase over 30 months, with the development earmarked for completion by June 2017, should the board give the green light.

Sun International said communities in which it operated would benefit from social responsibility initiatives.

Some R19.7 million had been spent to benefit various communities through projects last year alone.

Should the relocation go ahead, existing jobs at Morula would be transferred to Time Square at Menlyn Maine. The North West Community Trust would also still benefit by becoming a shareholder in the business, thereby facilitating enhanced reinvestment in Morula Sun.

Sun International also outlined an alternative use for the Morula property – setting up a hotel school and gaming academy there through a collaborative venture with a local tertiary institution, existing hotel schools and the University of Nevada.

The company denied its presence would negatively affect property prices. It said investigations had shown that casinos close to schools and places of worship had no effect on these facilities nor on local property prices.

Sun International said it would contribute towards upgrading a power station that supplies electricity to surrounding areas as well as the road infrastructure.

Concerns have been raised about the negative impact of gambling on those who may be considered socially vulnerable.

But the company told the board the promotion of responsible gambling would be a function of the National Responsible Gambling Programme, of which it was a founding member and active participant.

It argued there were also many other forms of gambling in close proximity to the Menlyn Maine, such as four bingo operations, 92 limited payout machines and 25 illegal operations, fronting as internet cafés.

This indicated that public demand for this type of entertainment was massive and there was no casino to accommodate it, it argued.

Stephens said Sun International was trying to bring something to the gambling community that everyone could be proud of, and added “we will never let you down”.

The public hearing continues today at the NG Kerk Moreleta Park, with objectors, including residents, the Department of Education and church leaders presenting their arguments - Pretoria News

 

- An amendment of conditions of the licence situated at Morula Sun in Mabopane to a site at Menlyn Maine.

- Amendment of the licence to increase the number of slot machines from 510 to 3 000 and 12 tables to 100.

- Transfer of the casino licence from Sun International to a new company, to facilitate the inclusion of BEE shareholders.


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