Sun City only Sun International Casino to Remain Shut
Sun City, the flagship resort of the Sun International casino and hospitality brand, is the only property of the group to remain shut after the government eased restrictions on the industry. Sun International’s other 10 casinos across the nation, including GrandWest Casino in Cape Town, Time Square Casino in Menlyn and Sibaya Casino in Durban have reopened, albeit under strict new safety conditions.
Now South Africans are waiting to see when Sun City Resort, which employs 2,500 people, will finally reopen. Sun International has explained that until the government allows cross border travel, where people can cross into the North West Province once more, it does not make financial sense for the resort to reopen.
“Even though we could open the casino it would only be able to serve our Rustenburg market,” explained Graham Woods, the COO for Hospitality at Sun International. “But the costs of opening that casino for just the Rustenburg market, when Sun City is largely a destination resort that requires people to travel form Gauteng and other parts of the country is not viable. The casino numbers at Sun City are only about 40% of its total revenue.”
Despite this setback, Sun International has reported on cautious optimism now that the majority of its properties have reopened. Woods said that the group was “quite surprised” in the first two weeks when it reopened in July, as it was trading at about 50 – 60% of prior year levels. The group also said that it has paid out a whopping R22.4 million through 142 jackpots of over R50,000 in the same time period. Two new millionaires were created.
Sun International and other casino and hospitality groups are doing their best to survive under ongoing lockdown regulations. These include a reinstated alcohol ban and a 9 pm curfew.
Sun International also said that it has seen a shift in the patrons who are coming to play these days. Woods said that many of the group’s top end players are in the 50 – 60 year age category. These fall in the high-risk category and are thus hesitant to come out and play at casinos just yet.
“Your higher end contributor has not returned to the same extent as those on the lower end contributor, what we call the grinder action level,” added Woods.