Tough economy does not put the brakes on gambling in SA

The economy might be struggling but that has not stopped South Africans from gambling.

Gross gambling revenue (GGR) in the country increased in 2017/18 to R18.45-billion‚ up from R17.83-billion in 2016/17 and R18.15-billion in 2015/16.

“While this increase is definitely encouraging‚ as an industry we are still held back by a tough economic climate as well as the impact of illegal gambling activities‚” said Casino Association of South Africa (Casa) chief executive Themba Ngobese.

“Our biggest competition is actually retail. A family which has R1‚000 to spend on entertainment are most likely to go to a restaurant because at the Spur mom‚ dad and kids can have something to eat and have fun as opposed to choosing the option to gamble.”

Casa presented their latest figures on Tuesday at Montecasino in Johannesburg. The association was founded in 2003 and represents 35 of the 38 casinos in South Africa. Its members include Tsogo Sun‚ Peermont Global and Caesars Entertainment.

Gauteng was the busiest province‚ generating R8.01-billion of the gross gambling revenue (43%) in seven casinos‚ followed by KwaZulu-Natal with R3.51-billion and the Western Cape with R2.92-billion.

Gauteng has the most casinos‚ followed by KwaZulu-Natal‚ Western Cape and the Eastern Cape‚ which have five each.

Casa’s casinos housed 922 tables‚ generating on average R4.52-million per table‚ and 24‚508 slot machines‚ generating R582‚991 per machine.

Ngobese said some of the regulatory challenges gambling faced included increased smoking legislation. He claimed the draft Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill could lead to an 18% drop in GGR (R3.16-billion).

“The knock-on effect would be massive with as many as 4‚000 direct and indirect industry jobs on the line.”

Ngobese also highlighted concern over illegal gambling.

“This not only affects the bottom line of licensed casinos‚ but society at large‚ as tax revenues‚ employment opportunities and associated economic activities are suppressed.”

Casa chairperson Jabu Mabuza called on authorities to shut down illegal online and offline gambling.

“Casa implores the authorities to prioritise the shutting down of illegal gambling operations‚ before they grow to insurmountable proportions.”

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