The article below which appeared in the Cape Times on 7 June brings back memories of the days when the initial casino licence was awarded. A contentious bidding process saw the Goodwood site (now know as Grand West) beating out the Century City bid and the bid for the Culemborg site.
In principle I am against casinos but they are often the cheese in the trap to unlock other developments. The Grand West Casino licence helped make the CTICC a reality, which has without a doubt been a major success not only as a venue but as an economic engine.
There are already rumours suggesting that the casino licence may be linked to the funding or development of a much needed Cruise Terminal in Cape Town. This would significantly enhance the Convention and Entertainment precint in planning and would become, in the words of the head of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, an unbeatable tourism magent. The developments over the next two years around the bidding process promises once again, to be exciting and perhaps even contentious.
Casino could move to central Cape Town
One of the Western Cape’s five casinos could move to Cape Town’s city centre – if draft amendments to the province’s gambling legislation are approved.
The current provincial law states that all casinos have to stay where they are based for the 10-year period of their licence.
GrandWest, situated in Goodwood, had the previous exclusivity licence for the city, which expired last year.
Once the law is passed, one of the five casinos in the province: GrandWest, Caledon, Mossel Bay, Worcester and Langebaan will have to bid for the new 10-year exclusivity licence in the city centre.
In terms of draft legislation that has just been completed, the casinos would first have to bid to start an “imaginative” tourist-attraction centre in order to clinch a new 10-year exclusivity licence.
The amendments to the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act, which will allow the migration of a casino to the city, will go out for public comment in the next few weeks.
The amendments are currently being translated into two other languages.
According to national legislation, only five casinos are allowed in the province, and Western Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde said they had no intention of issuing any new licences.
“The exclusivity is up for grabs, so if the law is passed it will mean no other casinos can operate in the city,” said Winde.
“Our proposal looks at allowing the existing licence holders to move into the city. We’ve been consulting with all the casinos for more than a year and cabinet has approved the amendments, but with the idea that it had to be a tourist attraction,” Winde said.
After going out for public comment, Winde predicted that the proposal should get to the provincial legislature by September.
“If legislature approves it by the end of the year, we could get it to the premier early next year to sign it off,” Winde said.
Once passed, the race will begin for the five casinos to come up with the most “imaginative” idea for a city casino.
“They have to come with an idea which is most beneficial to the city. There will be no restrictions, they have to come up with some great ideas.
“They also need to tell us what they will leave behind in the areas where they are currently based because they’ve created jobs and sustained an economy there for years, so they need to tell us what will happen on both ends,” Winde said.
He predicted that they would start receiving and assessing proposals by the middle of next year.
Winde said before proposing the amendments, they had a study done by the Bureau of Economic Research about the impact a casino in the city would have.
“The bureau’s advice was for us to look at where the money comes from, who spends in the city… for provincial government gambling has its pros and cons.
“We get great tax revenue from it, but is also has a negative social impact so we were more in favour of a tourismrelated casino somewhere in the Foreshore or Waterfront area.
“That made more sense for us and it wouldn’t be a social burden.
“It has to meet our first objective, and that is economic growth and jobs. That will influence our decision throughout the process,” Winde said.
David Coutts-Trotter, chief executive of Sun International, GrandWest’s holding company, said they were in contact with the provincial government about the process and would not discuss their strategy publicly on whether they would move into the city.