The race for Cape Town’s next potential casino is hotting up, with one of the potential operators pre-empting a formal announcement by saying it would bid for the second licence.

Tsogo Sun, which owns casinos in Mykonos, Caledon and the Garden Route, has just announced its mid-term financial results.

Its chief executive, Marcel von Aulock, is quoted in reports as saying the group would bid for the second casino licence in Cape Town “to compete with Sun International’s GrandWest Casino”.

While there has been a proposal by the provincial government to allow for this second casino by relocating an existing licence to the city, there would first need to be changes to the gambling legislation.

In response to questions about whether the bidding process was imminent, Finance MEC Alan Winde said: “At this stage no legislative changes have been made. Provincial treasury is currently in the process of updating economic information and studies which will inform the next step. We recognise that casinos can generate jobs, but we have to take several factors into account before we make a responsible and informed decision. We will keep the public updated.”

Gambling in Cape Town has been dominated by Sun International, with its GrandWest Casino enjoying exclusivity in exchange for its substantial investment in the development of the Cape Town International Convention Centre and other Foreshore projects.

But this exclusivity licence came to an end in 2010, and there is stiff competition for the chance to operate the city’s second casino, should the amendments to the gambling legislation be approved.

Michael Farr, group general manager of corporate brand and communications at Sun International, said: “We have had no indication from provincial government that changes to policy have taken effect and thus we are not aware that any bidding process for the relocation of the licence in the Western Cape has been initiated.”

He went on to say he hoped that as such a development would have “wide-reaching” impacts, a consultative process would be a requisite to any such change. Sun International also holds the licence for the casino in Worcester.

In its consolidated interim results for the period ending September 2013, Tsogo Sun took a more measured approach to the possibility of relocating to Cape Town, saying it was exploring a variety of projects and potential acquisitions which were at “various stages”.

It also noted: “The potential to bid for the relocation of one of the smaller casinos in the Western Cape to the Cape metropole remains an opportunity for the group, although the recent increase in provincial taxes in the Western Cape has made this a less attractive opportunity than before. The ability to continue to pursue the group’s investment strategy will depend on the final outcome and impact of the variety of proposed regulatory and tax changes considered by government and will require the successful interaction with various regulatory bodies including gaming boards, city councils, provincial authorities and national departments.

“The group continues to constructively engage with the various spheres of government in this regard.”

The V&A Waterfront and Cape Town Stadium have both been mooted as possible sites for the second casino. Winde said the province would finish its economic studies by February. –

Source: The Cape Argus – Business Report – Anel Lewis