Sun International, the leading casino and hotel group, was given the green light by the
Gauteng Gambling Board to relocate the Morula Sun Casino and Hotel to Pretoria East. The hotel is currently located in Mobopane but is a struggling establishment for the group.
Despite strong opposition from civil rights groups, Sun International managed to convince the board that it had good reasons for moving the casino to a location that is already zoned for construction. The chairman of the board, Prince Mafojane said that Sun International had presented a very compelling case and therefore the board agreed to give the casino group permission to relocate.
“Morula Casino and Hotel has for some time experienced a decline in revenues due primarily to its relatively inaccessible location and the growth of non-casino gambling activities in its catchment area,” said the chief executive of Sun International, Grame Stephens.
It is believed that the vast financial benefits that will come from the R3 billon construction of the new Morula Sun Casino also played a part in the Gauteng Gambling Board’s decision to give Sun International the green light.
Church and other groups put up a big fight against Sun International’s plans and specifically opposed the fact that the development would take place behind a school. However, Prince Mafojane said: “In terms of the case studies that they had done, the impact in the community and other factors, we took into account.”
The civil rights groups have said that they don’t intend putting up another fight against the decision, believing that they have no leeway to appeal.
“We respect the decision,” said a member of the Hatfield Christian Church, one of the entities which opposed the move. “From what we can understand there is no way for us at this point to challenge it. Once the gambling board has ruled, it’s a done deal.”
The plan is that that the R3 billion resort will become a major entertainment complex in Pretoria, including a casino, hotel conference center and indoor facility for concerts and shows.
Sun International will create a management contract and hold just under 75% of the development. The current Morula Sun will be closed down and the new resort will take around three years to complete.
Sun International said that the new project would “maximize the potential of the licence for all stakeholders, including employees, Sun International shareholders and provincial and national government in terms of gambling taxes.”