Gamblers in the Western Cape have been given a break as 2 100 legal slot machines are scheduled to move into areas previously plagued by illegal gambling. Linda de Vries, chairwoman of the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board, said the number of illegal gaming machines confiscated in areas such as Khayelitsha, Muizenberg and Mitchell’s Plain was alarming and indicated that there was a need for legal machines in these areas. Last week the names of five groups that may be granted gambling machine operators’ licences, were released. According to the list, the candidates are Gold Circle Cape Slots, Las Vegas Games Western Cape, Luck At It Western Cape, Thuo Gaming Western Cape and Vukani Gaming Western Cape. Only two or three of these applicants will eventually be granted licences. Thuo Gaming Western Cape is one of the major players on the list. The empowerment group includes Grand Parade investments, which is in partnership with Sun International SA in the GrandWest Casino and Table Bay Hotel enterprises. Another major player is Vukani Gaming Western Cape, which includes Hosken Consolidated Investments, the biggest stakeholder in public broadcaster e.tv. De Vries said the applicants would have to go through a very strict selection process and be subjected to a thorough background check before the final decision was made. Joyce Witbooi, Western Cape MEC for tourism and gambling said: “We would like to see machines out there, but none within easy reach of schools, places of worship, amusement areas frequented by under 18s, or in proximity of any places where pensions or welfare payments are being made, as well as where a large concentration of grantees reside.” Both Witbooi and De Vries stressed that residents in the areas where gaming machines would possibly be placed were encouraged to participate in the decision-making process. De Vries said job opportunities would be created in the information technology industry as the machines would need to be monitored electronically to ensure that everything was above board. Hence, the determining factors on who would receive the licences all boiled down to which applicant would create the most jobs and plough the most back into community development projects. “We call on the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board and the applicants for limited gambling machines to recognise the potentially harmful effects that the roll-out of limited gambling machines could have and to act with caution and sensitivity,” said Witbooi.

Source: Cape Argus – Terri-Liza Fortein & Dan Bennett