The first limited-payout gambling machines will be installed in pubs, hotels and taverns across the Eastern cape during the next 18 months following the provincial gambling board’s award of the first route operator licence to Vukani Gaming. The licence, one of two on offer in the province, enables Vukani to install up to 1000 “one-arm bandits” in remote locations in the province, all limited to maximum prizes of R500 and maximum stakes of R5 a game. The intention is to install between one and five machines at each approved site, although a few selected sites will resemble mini-casinos, with 20 to 40 machines. The Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board will soon advertise for site operators to apply to host the machines, said chief executive Gonza Mati. Site operators are entitled to 40 percent of the revenue from each machine, whie the route operator collects the other 60 percent. Limited payout machines, meant largely for casual entertainment and to supplement the income of entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry, have so far been introduced in Mpumalanga and more recently in the Western Cape, despite concern from some interest groups that they will irresponsible gambling in the market already dominated by large-scale casinos and the national lottery. However, Mr Mati said the province had followed the example of other provinces and initially allocated only two licences of 1 000 units each rather than the 6 000 permitted by national regulations. Vukani is an empowerment company whose majority shareholder is Hosken Consolidated Investments Ltd. HCI, in turn, is the majority shareholder of Midi-TV and ultimately of free-to-air television channel Vukani is already an operator in both Mpumalanga and the Western Cape. Vukani chief executive Gavin Chamberlain said the company would work with the board to allocate sites for the machines. The company expected to make a capital investment of around R20-million in the province during the roll-out. The timeframe for the roll-out of the machines would be determined by the gambling board, but he expected it would take between 14 and 16 months before the first machines were installed. All the machines would be linked by telephone or wireless connection to the operator’s central computer system, allowing it and the regulator to monitor winnings and earnings on a live basis, Mr Chamberlain said. This also ensured that provinces could benefit from the taxes generated by the machines. “We want to ensure that the machines are spread out geographically through the province’. A second route operator licence for 1 000 machines is on offer, but a decision on awarding it had been temporarily deferred because the board was awaiting outstanding information from the only other applicant, the Luck At It consortium, Mr. Mati said.

Source: Herald – Steve Matthewson