Plans to relocate one of the casinos in the outlying areas of the province to the more lucrative Cape metropole have raised concerns about the economic impact it will have on those areas.
The Cape Argus can exclusively reveal that the City of Cape Town has received an application for rezoning the Somerset Country Club to allow business activities and the development of a casino with a hotel.
The applicants are Southern Sun Hotels and Messrs Headland Planners. Southern Sun Hotels is a division of Tsogo Sun.
The Somerset Country Club is on the corner of the R102 (Strand Road) and the N2.
According to a notice by the Helderberg Basin Subcouncil in a notice from the City’s transport and urban development authority, the plan is to subdivide the property into five portions.
These would include a general business zone, one for the development of a casino and multiple-level parking garage and another for the development of a 120-room hotel. The notice is undersigned by DA councillor Gregory Pick.
Tsogo Sun has yet to confirm whether they are going ahead with the development, but the City has given residents till August 6 to lodge objections.
The Cape Argus reported last week on the Draft Western Cape Nineteenth Gambling and Racing Amendment Bill, 2018, which seeks to amend the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act (Act 4 of 1996).
The new legislation would permit the moving of existing casinos to other areas.
Casinos were established in five of the province’s district municipal regions, and owners were each granted a licence to operate a casino exclusively for a 10-year period in a designated area. The exclusivity periods have now expired.
There are now proposals to make casino licences available in the City’s eastern region (Somerset West, Strand) and in the Table Bay and Tygerberg area.
Asked how the relocation of casinos would affect the local economy, economic opportunities MEC Alan Winde said there were risks involved with relocations.
“One has to be very careful when this is being done. One of the provisions we would have to look at is what happens to the people who get left behind. We would also consider what happens to the local economy that will be affected by the relocation.
“What needs to be stressed is that everything will be taken into account before any decision is made,” Winde said.
Saldanha Bay mayor Marius Koen said he would be fighting for the famous Club Mykonos Casino to remain in Langebaan.
“Club Mykonos is a great investment for anyone and it adds so much economic activity to our region.
“The casino has also been a great help with social initiatives where they actively contribute, building roads and financing social projects in schools.
“The development around the casino depends on the casino’s presence as their ‘walking wallets’ ready to spend,” he said.
Julian Kritzinger, mayoral committee member for economic development in the Breede River Valley, said besides the many direct job opportunities that would be lost, many indirect job opportunities for suppliers and service providers to the casino and lodge would also be effected.
“The casino was built at a cost of R151million in 2006 and had already created 316 new jobs at the time of its opening.
“The lodge was added at a cost of R64m and it would be a pity if such expensive infrastructure with potential for future expansion were abandoned,” he said.
“The casino also serves as patron and benefactor for numerous non-profit organisations who do crucial work in the local community. The casino also has a high BEE shareholding, of which the Breede River Valley Trust owns a percentage.
Marie de Klerk, mayoral committee member for finance in Mossel Bay, said: “The casino here (Garden Route) never has a closed hand. It is always willing to help, especially in the poorer communities and where children are involved. If they decided to move, it would have a negative impact on the community.”