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GAMING FOR AFRICA Shocking Rise in Illegal Gambling in South Africa


throw away from his home in Midrand. It is impossible to take a peek at what goes on in there because the café has pitch-black windows. “These kinds of places are set up as internet cafés


T


or entertainment lounges, but really, they are running illegal gambling operations,” says Ngobese. The café is just one of hundreds of illegal gambling spots that operate without consequence in the country. These spots can be found in the suburbs as well as informal settlements, and host all the popular games one finds in casinos, like poker, roulette, slot machines, blackjack, baccarat and craps. As the CEO of the Casino Association of SA (CASA), Ngobese has for years been trying to tackle the contentious issue of illegal gambling. But, as an advocate, he says he is helpless. “Not nearly enough is being done to combat illegal gambling. There are laws in place, but they are meaningless without a firm and consistent commitment to enforce them. “Unfortunately, there will always be people who believe that this is a victimless crime, but nothing could be further from the truth.” Ngobese says Casa doesn’t have the legal


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result, Sun Slots will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the group. Leeming reported that both Sibaya and Sun Slots had been trading well, with income increasing by 6% and 13% respectively, and with the acquisitions concluded at attractive valuations they will enhance earnings and cash flow. “I am particularly pleased with the


performance of Time Square, which posted a 15% increase in income and continued to gain market share, while SunBet saw a significant improvement with income up 146% and EBITDAR at R20-million from R2-million in the prior period. Sun City, Wild Coast, Windmill and The Maslow battled with income


authority to arrest anyone operating an illegal gambling facility. “The only thing we can do is try to persuade law


enforcement to do something. “Every time we address the issue, they tell us that they have more serious crimes to worry about, like murders and cash heists. This week, CASA, the body that represents the


interests of South Africa’s legal casino gambling industry, as well as the public, wrote to Minister of Police Bheki Cele, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the shocking rise in illegal gambling in South Africa. “We’re waiting for them to come back to us, and hope that this time, they’ll take us seriously.” There are currently more than 300 illegal gambling spots in Gauteng, according to the Gambling Board, and the numbers continue to grow at an alarming rate. “People don’t realise how big the industry is and the associated problems with it. That is why we are pushing for the government to do something.”


declining 6%, 9%, 9% and 9% respectively. We are working hard to improve the performance of these operations.” “The restructure of the Carousel was


completed at the end of May 2018, and that of the Boardwalk will be finalised shortly. The Wild Coast land claim was finally settled and we submitted our bid for renewal of the licence. The Eastern Cape Gambling Board has extended the existing Wild Coast Casino licence for six months to 28 February 2020.” Sun International’s Latam operations achieved growth in income of 17% to R2.8-billion, with adjusted EBITDAR up 1% to R638-million. However, due to the acquisition of


hemba Ngobese fumes every time he drives past the internet café, he believes it is an illegal gambling establishment. It is just a stone’s


Ngobese says it is not just legal casinos that are feeling the pinch as a result of illegal gambling; it is the entire country. He says it is negatively impacting everything from job security, corporate social investment budgets to their ability to support the economy through taxes. The National Gambling Board estimated that about 4 000 jobs are being lost because of this industry. Ngobese says it is responsible for funding other criminal activity because the money made at these illegal casinos cannot be kept in banks, so it ends up further funding other criminality including child prostitution, human trafficking, and drug trafficking. “It has also opened the door for a rise in under-age gambling. There are no rules.” He says CASA has even seen an increase in gambling games, and Fafi (a lottery game) and dice have reached epidemic proportions in townships. Ngobese says he hopes the government intervenes soon. “The government needs to step up with a deliberate and concerted effort to enforce its laws to protect the regulated gambling industry and the public. “We are hoping that, as the government struggles to collect the tax debt shortfall, at some stage they realise that they need to tighten the tap and not be losing money where they shouldn’t have to.” (Source: iol)


Thunderbird Resorts in Peru and the Park Hyatt and Casino in Argentina in 2018, these results are not directly comparable. On a comparable basis, income is in line with the prior period at R2.4-billion, with adjusted EBITDA decreasing by 7% to R606-million. Sun International has concluded


agreements to dispose of 15% of its equity interest in Sun Dreams in Latam for US$86-million, which will reduce the company’s interest in Sun Dreams to 50%.


Looking ahead, Leeming said, “In light of the pressure that the local economy is under, combined with the uncertain international environment, we do not expect trading conditions to improve in the short term. For our part,


we will continue to focus on our key strategic objectives to optimise the business by improving operations and the experience of our guests, and taking the necessary action on our loss-making entities. We will also focus on growing our alternate gaming business. Times Square is expected to gain further market share, income and EBITDAR. “In Latam, we anticipate an


improved performance from our operations in the second half with both Chile and Peru’s GDP growing at 3%. We believe there are good growth opportunities in Latam which we will continue to explore, notably in the online space given that several countries are regulating this industry.”


32 OCTOBER 2019


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