South Africa’s long and (for the moment) fruitless pursuit of legal online gambling options took yet another unsure step toward the finish line last month. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced plans to establish a single regulatory body that would oversee the national lottery, sports pools, betting exchanges and – yes – online gambling.
However, Davies neglected to reveal precisely what the government’s intentions were regarding online gambling and this is hardly the first time he’s gotten people’s hopes up. Two years ago, Davies hinted that regulated online gambling was in the pipeline, so he advised would-be operators to be patient and not go “jumping the gun.” What he failed to mention was that this gun would be of the 800mm ‘Dora’ railway cannon variety, so operators better not put away their vaulting poles just yet.
SUN INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION PLANS
In the meantime, brick-and-mortar casino operator Sun International has proposed building a R3b (US $305m) ‘leisure campus’ in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s capital of Tshwane (aka Pretoria). In addition to a five-star hotel, an 8k-seat amphitheater plus conference and exhibition facilities, the Times Square project will offer a casino featuring 2k slot machines and 60 gaming tables (to start). Sun CEO Graeme Stephens claims the project could be up and running within three years provided the Gauteng Gambling Board signs off on the plan.
Because the province isn’t issuing any more casino licenses, Sun plans to relocate the license of its much smaller Morula Casino and Hotel to the new property. Stephens said the Morula property’s revenue had been declining for some time, in part due to its relatively inaccessible location. In April, Sun’s local rival, Tsogo Sun Holdings, announced plans to spend R750m to expand its own Gauteng operations.
NIGERIAN GAMBLERS SET AFIRE
June saw the launch of NairaGames Casino, whose owners billed it as Nigeria’s first domestic online casino. Six young men in Ogun State are likely wishing they’d decided to gamble there instead of some seriously cranky old man’s backyard. The six are currently in hospital recovering from serious burns after the old man got tired of their gambling on the grounds outside his apartment window on Tuesday night. The man eventually became sufficiently fed up that he poured a can of petrol out of his window onto the youths, which ignited a joint on which one of them was puffing, and before you can say ‘flame on’ the gamblers became human torches.
The incident is under investigation and police expect to lay charges against the petrol-pourer shortly. In the meantime, we think Nigeria’s newest website has found its new marketing slogan: NairaGames … where only the games are on fire. (Sorry. Too soon?)