Pretoria - Objectors have expressed their disappointment after the Gauteng Gambling Board approved the relocation of a casino licence from Morula Sun in Mabopane to Menlyn Maine, Pretoria east.
The decision means Sun International will be able to build a R3 billion urban entertainment destination at Menlyn Maine.
Teresa Conradie, representing 6 000 objectors, said it was extremely disappointing that the gambling board did not consider the socio-economic impact of having a casino at Menlyn Maine.
Conradie said they would wait for the full decision, with reasons, to determine the way forward, including the possibility of calling for a review.
Michael Neumann, of the Hatfield Christian Church, said they would continue to explore ways to mitigate the negative consequences of gambling. The church reiterated its stance that urban residential gambling was detrimental to the well-being of communities.
Sun International SA boss Graeme Stephens said the relocation of the licence made a lot of sense. Morula Sun had for some time experienced a decline in revenue due primarily to its relatively inaccessible location and the growth of non-casino gambling activities in its catchment area.
“Menlyn Maine is in an area that is closer to source markets and is well serviced by highway access,” he said.
“This will maximise the potential of the licence for all stakeholders, including employees, Sun International shareholders and the provincial and national governments in terms of gambling taxes.
“Importantly, Sun International’s Time Square at Menlyn Maine will act as a major catalyst for the entire precinct. It will bring to the area an urban entertainment facility on a scale it warrants and deserves, to serve local residents and visitors.”
Sun International said it expected that in addition to significant job creation, the development would generate considerably more revenue for the provincial and national government by way of taxes and gaming levies.
It is anticipated that about R1.7bn in gaming taxes and VAT will be generated in the first five years of operation at Menlyn Maine. The total estimated revenue to the government from the project over a five-year period is estimated at R2.7bn.
“The multiplier effect of the investment far exceeds the impact generated by the current Morula casino licence. We expect the project to deliver a cumulative contribution to GDP of R19 billion during construction and over the first five years of operations,” Sun International said.
A primary concern with relocating to Menlyn Maine is for existing staff at Morula, and the impact the move could have on the surrounding communities of Mabopane and Soshanguve.
Sun International said staff would be offered employment at the new facility, with transport arrangements implemented.
The company will set up a Hotel School and Gaming Academy at Morula through a collaborative venture with local tertiary institutions, existing hotel schools and an international university. There is also a plan to preserve the entertainment facility at Morula, without the casino, for the local and surrounding communities.