HEMINGWAYS Casino operator Tsogo Sun Emonti yesterday came out guns blazing in their bid to keep the city’s only gambling licence in their possession.
“Our plea to the board is not to kill a working node to fix a broken beachfront,” Tsogo Sun Emonti chief executive Jabu Mabuza told the Eastern Cape Gambling and BetUng Board (ECGBB) at a public hearing packed with Hemingways’ employees and Tsogo executives.

The hearing, at River ParK, was Ihe second this week, where two rival bidders for the Zone 2 gambling licence have presented their applications to the board.

Tsogo Sun Emonti are the current holders of the licence, issued in 2001. which expires in September next year.

The new licence, which will be awarded next month and which will commence in November2011, is being challenged by a group that plans to build a casino on East Loudon’s beachfront.

If Ihe yet-to-be-formed Ubukhosi Leisure (Pty) Ltd group, trading as Cascades Casino Emonti. Is successful, then Hemingways Casino will not be able to legally operate as a gambling centre in Bast London, Ubukhosi based their argument for the licence on the need to upgrade the city’s beachfront, to provide a catalyst for development near the city centre and to complete the entertainment and hospitality node already started with the Regent Hotel.

Premier Hotel Cascades & International Convention Centre and Kennaway Hotel in close proximity to each other.

But Tsogo Sun Emonti yesterday reckoned the licence should remain with the Hemingways is no longer just some casino on a hill.” Mabuza said, illustrating how. in the nine years of operation. Hemingways had grown to be a “shopper-tainment” node alongside the N2, if Billion Group’s Hemingways Mall was taken into account.

yesterday’s presentation outlined the profitability and success the casino has enjoyed over the past nine years.

Special attention was given to the casino as an employer in the region, and to the funding given to social projects and training of staff.

Also outlined were the plans Tsogo has for the casino if the licence is re-awarded, including a total new investment injection of R344m into renovations to the current casino floor, the construction of a pavilion for major events and additions to the current hotel.

ECGBB chairperson Sipho Majombozi said a decision on which bid was successful would be announced next month

Source: Daily Dispatch – Taralyn McLean