Johannesburg - The proposed development of a casino by Sun International in the upmarket Pretoria suburb of Menlyn Maine, which is due to be absorbed in a huge conurbation, is being opposed by residents’ associations in the area who have formed an action group that has taken legal advice.
The casino would form part of an entertainment and shopping area and, like GrandWest in Cape Town, would be part of a complex including a concert hall capable of seating 8 000 people, restaurants and shops, and adjoins a multi-storey hotel, although it would be next door to a high school.
Duncan Baker, a DA municipal councillor, said the school would be separated from the complex only by a band of trees and there was also concern that alcohol would be on sale.
The development of the casino depends on whether the Gauteng Gambling Board agrees to the transfer of Sun International’s gambling licence from the Marula casino, on the other side of the city.
Sun International has announced that it will, in any case, close the Marula casino and adjoining hotel because it has lost business due to road development that made it awkward to access and due to competition from a large number of limited payout machines installed in the area.
The residents’ associations claim that they had insufficient warning that a casino was likely to be built on the site because an earlier planning application mentioned only “a theatre and a hotel, with the casino mentioned only in an application submitted later”.
Graeme Stephens, the Sun International chief executive, said that casinos in the country were highly regulated.
He said alcohol was already sold in bars and restaurants in a shopping and retail area adjoining the proposed Town Square in which the casino and hotel would be situated, and drinks would also be sold in the hotel. In addition, he said, “we do not encourage people to drink in the casino”.
Stephens said there were also “a large number of illegal limited payout machines” in the area, while the casino would be the only one in Tshwane. Sun International’s proposal would be the only entertainment development in what would eventually be a large conurbation, and without it residents would have to drive into Pretoria.
He pointed out that the development would provide a large number of jobs.
Nana Magomala, the executive director of Responsible Gambling, said the Gauteng Gambling Board would hold a public inquiry before making a decision. It would also consider where schools and churches were located relative to the development. - Business Report