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Sun Plans New Casino in Pretoria

Local residents and politicians are surprised.

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While online gambling legalization is being considered in the country, South Africa’s brick-and-mortar casino industry is moving at full speed.

In fact, it seems to move so fast, that residents occasionally have to find out from gambling news that a giant casino is planned in their neighborhood.

At least that appears to be the case with the latest casino development announced (or rather: not announced) in Pretoria by hotel and casino chain Sun International.

Concurrent to the scheduled closure of its unprofitable Morula Sun casino, the company has applied for permission to transfer its license to a new establishment called Time Square, in the Menlyn Maine real estate development project.

The new location is much more central and accessible by the targeted demographics, and Sun hopes to turn it into ‘a unique entertainment and conference destination.’ The numbers speak for themselves: alongside a large number of gaming tables and poker rooms, the casino would feature 3,000 slot machines. It would also create 10,000 jobs during construction phase and 2,200 once fully operational.

Some of the area’s residents, however, believe that the casino would be too close to a nursery school, several churches and other sensitive establishments. Several local politicians have also been caught off-guard. Critics say that while the original permit application for the Menlyn Maine project listed a shopping mall, movie theatres, offices, various entertainment facilities and even a hotel, it made no mention of a casino.

Such developments must of course meet many criteria set out by South African gambling laws, zoning regulations and various other rules. One such requirement is for the intent to be published in a major newspaper, giving opposing stakeholders sufficient time to raise objections.

Indeed, that is how the whole plan came to light, and this raised the ire of many casino critics, accusing Sun International of attempting to keep the public in the dark.

Sun International may now have a harder time to win the public over to approve those plans. Should they nevertheless succeed, the casino may open its gates around the end of 2016.

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