South Africa’s casino operators protest gov’t decision to issue new license

south-africa-casino-license-protestSouth Africa’s casino operators are planning legal action to block the government’s plan to issue a new casino license.

Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Rob Davies recently announced that the government would issue a new casino license in the North West province, the first time that the number of casinos has increased since the country legalized gambling in 1995.

Davies said the National Gambling Policy Council had justified the new venue because recent changes to municipal demarcations meant the North West’s Morula Sun Casino – a Sun International property – was now in neighboring Gauteng.

Davies also argued that, while the Gambling Review Commission had concluded in 2009 that 40 was indeed an appropriate number of casinos, the National Gambling Act “does empower consideration to increase the limit” should the government decide expansion was desirable.

The operators of the country’s other casinos quickly raised holy hell at the idea of fresh competition. Themba Ngobese, CEO of the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA), announced that his group had “already commenced with legal consultations’ in expectation of taking the government to court over the issue.

The government’s original report on how to structure its gaming industry mapped out specific numbers of casinos for each province based on criteria including population, economic activity and the local propensity to gamble.

The redrawn municipal boundaries left the North West with four casino licenses, while Gauteng now has eight. But CASA, which represents all but two of South Africa’s 40 casinos, insists that provincial boundaries shouldn’t matter when it comes to the total number of casinos allowed.