The KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board confirmed that it has received applications from a number of malls in the province to introduce mini casinos on their premises in a bid to increase revenues. The announcement was confirmed by KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott, who said that at least 12 malls had asked for permission to introduce electronic bingo terminals.
Malls such as Liberty Midlands Mall, Southcoast Mall and Galleria Shopping Mall asked that that Scott and the Gaming and Betting Board amend limitations placed on them and allow them to register electronic bingo terminals on their premises.
Lawmakers gazetted the request by the 12 malls about a month ago, and the date for interested parties and the public to object to these applications expired last week.
The next step is for the KZN Gaming and Betting Board to hold a series of public hearings where anybody who objects to the introduction of gambling devices in the malls, has a right to raise the issue within a public forum.
Once these hearings have been completed, the board will then come together to decide whether the applications will be approved.
"The board is now complying with its statutory requirements to publish such applications received for public comments and/or objections," said Ntokozo Maphisa, a spokeswoman for KZN Treasury. "The board is duty-bound to consider such objections received prior to making its final decision."
A number of social groups have already rallied together to raise objections to the idea of having gambling devices so easily accessible to the general public. The People's Forum Against Electronic Bingo is made up of 21 different community, religious and political groups, representing over a third of the 10 million people who make up the KZN population. The group claims that there is an oversaturation of slot machines in the province already, and adding any more will lead to higher numbers of gambling addiction.
" The sites referred to in the government notice are largely in shopping malls and close to business enterprises that employ large numbers of employees," said the attorney hired by the forum to represent their cause, Stephen Franke. "The halls are also near schools and churches."
"The employees, by virtue of the easy accessibility of the bingo halls, will spend their weekly or monthly pay at the bingo hall before buying their necessary daily or monthly living requirements," he warned.