A casino.
Cape Town - Casino bosses have slammed the Western Cape government’s proposed legislation that allows for the relocation of casinos, saying if implemented it could lead to a massive decline in gambling revenue, overall profits and a loss of jobs.

The Draft Western Cape Nineteenth Gambling and Racing Amendment Bill, 2018, seeks to amend the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act, 1996 (Act 4 of 1996). The new legislation would permit the moving of existing casinos to other areas. Casinos were established in five of the province’s district municipal regions, and owners were each granted a licence to operate a casino exclusively for a 10-year period in a designated area. The exclusivity periods have now expired.

There are now proposals to make casino licences available in the City’s eastern region (Somerset West, Strand) and in the Table Bay and Tygerberg area.

Anthony Leeming, chief executive of Sun International, said relocation by competitors would have a negative impact on GrandWest Casino. If the bill was passed into law “any of the four licensed outlying casinos will be allowed to apply to the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board for amendment of their licenses”.

“The amendment, if granted, will permit the respective casino operator to relocate their licensed operations from their existing locations in the outlying areas to the newly established Table Bay and eastern region.” He said GrandWest Casino, the metro licence holder, could see a decline of 24% of gross gambling revenue. “The headcount will likely decline by 15 to 20%.

“The majority of job losses will be from the casino, but a drop in footfall will result in additional and similar job losses in the supporting... operations at GrandWest, as many of these businesses are entirely dependent on footfall generated by the casino.” The closure of one or two of the outlying casinos would lead to retrenchments and hit local economies hard.

“If Worcester is to close, 92 employees are forecast to lose their jobs alongside a reduction of R9 million in supplier spend.” In terms of the bill, “economic opportunity fees” would accrue to the holder of a casino operator licence as a direct result of a casino relocation.

Jacques Booysen, Tsogo Sun chief executive, said: “We have seen the draft legislation and will submit our comments in terms of the process, with comments due by July 31. We are supportive of the possibility of relocating outlying casinos into the metropole as long as this is done in a manner that makes commercial sense for us.”

Western Cape Finance MEC Ivan Meyer said the bill had been proposed for several reasons, but referred the Cape Argus to his office. Denis Joseph, chairperson of the legislature’s finance committee, said the bill was yet to be tabled before the committee.

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Cape Argus