An investigation has been launched into the casino licence changes in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. The investigation follows a dispute over whether Durban businessman Vivian Reddy promised to give the site of a temporary casino to the local community after a permanent casino property had been built. The site was actually sold to the council for R15 million (US$ million) and there is concern that the deal was prompted by the provincial administration and that ratepayers had not obtained a good deal.
The former Iscor site that held the temporary casino had been valued by the council at R10.5 million although Reddy claimed it was worth R27 million. Poor management at the temporary casino was blamed for not providing sufficient revenue to fulfil licence obligations to give the community 1% of profits and hand them the site. The sale of the site was needed to finance the permanent casino, which had a R30 million turnover between January and March this year.
According to Reddy the protests were because of personal vendettas against him and because of his support for the ANC Deputy President. The leader of the Opposition in the KZN legislature says that while Reddy’s acts may be legal they are not ‘honourable’. Reddy, who claims to have contributed R3 million to community projects in Newcastle, owns 25% of Balele Leisure which sold the site. 40% shareholders in Century Casino Newcastle, Winlen Casino Operators, have said that the decision to sell the site was taken by Balele Leisure directors and shareholders.
The official in charge of gaming and betting at the KZN Premier’s office is to investigate the change of Newcastle casino licence and will be speaking to the gambling board, Newcastle residents and the Amajuba Council. Reddy has offered audited accounts to show that the temporary casino lost money, a list of community projects that received money from gambling, and independent valuations of the site. He is also a shareholder in Durban’s Sibaya Casino. (E-07.27.07)
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