by Wela Mlokoti

Betting on change

Legal casinos have a major impact on South Africa’s economy and society because they operate in metropolitan areas

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Legal casinos have a major impact on South Africa’s economy and society because they operate in metropolitan areas and are the largest component of the gambling market, with revenues accounting for 72% of total gross gambling revenues in 2014. The country’s gambling revenues were projected to rise to R30 billion in 2019, mainly because we have the largest overall gambling market in Africa, which in turn brings tourists to our shores.

Despite national legislation and uniform laws regulating gambling, there are various social problems and negative impacts associated with the industry. Through help from the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA), hotels and casino members under this organisation have shown their commitment towards addressing and funding the socio-economic developmental programmes within their communities. Which is why hotels and casinos invest and dedicate their time and resources towards corporate social investment initiatives.

These initiatives counteract their business’ effects and promote social responsibility within the communities they operate. This is their way of trying to do some good through development projects that empower, educate and create a platform for entrepreneurial growth.

Their multiple corporate social investment initiatives that hotels and casinos are engaging in across provinces in South Africa, in turn projecting a positive social impact while redefining the industry’s image. These initiatives target the most underprivileged people in society such as orphans, at the same time they empower the youth through education and the overall community through creating employment and sustainability initiatives. The list of good deeds and doers is long, but the ones listed below best unpack the general idea, of how hotels and casinos are contributing towards making South Africa greater.

Sun Slots group of companies has a vast array of projects that play an integral part in their company’s corporate culture. Among the programs that continue to have a positive impact on society are the following: A skills development organisation that assists unemployed people to become financially active by offering training courses that provide work, life and business skills.

Sponsoring two primary schools that are located in communities riddled with poverty and gang violence, Enkululekweni Primary School in Kraaifontein and Melton Rose Primary School in Eerste River—both schools are based in Cape Town. They also fund Elim Home, which is a residential special care facility for children with severe intellectual and physical disabilities.

What’s more, they fund Healing Miracles which is an organisation dealing with HIV/TB in the Western Cape. Their sponsorship is extended towards, Tongaat Anti-Drug Forum (TADF), whose main objectives are to assist the community in dealing with substance abuse awareness, prevention, and rehabilitation. Then they work with Newcastle Community Aid and Upliftment (NCAU) which is a nonprofit organisation established to alleviate poverty, feed the hungry and assist the community in any way possible.

Another organisation they work with is South Coast Hospice a non-profit organisation, committed to serving the community of the UGU District in KwaZulu-Natal by providing specialised palliative care for patients with severe progressive diseases, and their families.

Lastly, they work with the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (BR) whose mission it is to contribute towards the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity and resources. Sun Slots is funding many initiatives, in addition to that, they have charities working with abused children and care for the elderly.

Grand West Casino also has impressive CSI projects, centred around sustainability and community development. They set-up at Granny’s Green Nursery, food waste from the kitchen and hotel is stored and broken down in sealed containers for two months, before being added to a worm farm on site. Once the worms have done their part, the bio-friendly compost is then used in Grand West’s vegetable garden, this supplies the property’s kitchens with organic goodness.

Grand West has a CSI partnership with the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO). They fund a Health Clinic in Tambo Village ensuring the underprivileged community has access to essential healthcare services.

Grand West also facilitated the much-needed upgrade of Garlandale High School’s new consumer studies classroom. One of 10 schools benefitted from Sun International’s nationwide Schools Renovations programme in 2015. Lastly by optimising energy efficiency across its operations, and by implementing energy-saving technologies, Grand West has reduced its energy consumption by a staggering 7%.

Peermont Hotels Casinos Resorts is significantly contributing towards Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) and sustainable community development. Through targeted projects that give financial assistance, skills training and leadership support from various Peermont Trusts and other Corporate Social Investment and Responsibility initiatives.

They currently provide social, educational and emotional upliftment to children in disadvantaged areas of Ekurhuleni. They’re financially supporting the primary school through education and holistic growth and development programmes.

Peermont sponsors seven aftercare programmes that have reached six hundred and thirty disadvantaged children, most of them are orphans. In 2017 they spent R2 million on food, school uniforms, career advice and providing a safe and secure environment to do homework. The PCT works in conjunction with the Departments of Social Development and Education.

Their hotel sponsors disadvantaged learners to study a variety of university courses, achieving an incredible 85% graduation rate and finding employment in firms with big names at a placement rate of 99%. Over R3,8 million was allocated to the project in 2017 and 120 graduates completed programmes with 24 students on full scholarships.

Then the Frontier Inn Dihlabeng Community Trust continued its bursary support in 2017 allocating approximately R280 000 to seven students furthering their tertiary education.

Tsogo Sun is actively involved in areas of social investment and caring initiatives throughout South Africa. Here are some amazing examples of the work they are currently doing: The group contributes R6 million per annum to the upkeep of the Apartheid Museum, which is situated on the greater Gold Reef City precinct. The group also takes an active role on the board and assists with the operation of the museum. Each year Tsogo Sun contributes financially to the SOS Children’s Villages which provides residential care for orphaned and vulnerable children in communities. In addition, they contribute towards educational and developmental programmes for those children and other families in need of assistance.

Since 2007, Blackrock Casino has been the home of Newcastle Community Radio station where it receives facilities at no charge. Currently, the Newcastle Community Radio broadcasts in English, Zulu and Afrikaans to the surrounding areas and has a listenership of about 200 000.

The Gold Reef City Theme Park and the Montecasino Bird Park contribute to the less fortunate by providing free entrance to children from orphanages and shelters, and primary school learners who otherwise would not have the opportunity to experience the joys of these parks. Every year the hotels within the group generously donate significant amounts of linen and hotel equipment to charitable organisations across South Africa.

The Olwazini Science and Discovery Centre is based on the premises of the Golden Horse Casino in Pietermaritzburg. The centre provides support to local schools in KwaZulu-Natal. Launching events such as learner intervention programmes as well as career guidance workshops.

The above insights confirm the sizeable contribution the gambling sector makes to the South African economy. The industry has a significant impact on the country’s GDP and has been boosting the economy directly through their revenue and indirectly through its CSI initiatives.

We need to applaud these hotels and casinos for the structural action they are taking to better society, we need to show support and respect towards this sector because they are going above and beyond to secure a sustainable future for South Africa.

The next time you look at a slot machine, table of blackjack or any feature associated with a casino, think about the child that machine is putting through school, feeding and clothing.

Think about the youth it is empowering, the jobs it is creating and the many lives that depend on it.

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