Gambling industry must create jobs

Monday, April 18, 2011

Durban - Stakeholders in the gambling industry have been drawn in to help government create jobs and meet its employment targets.

It is hoped that new gambling initiatives that are being considered and researched will result in an increase in direct and indirect jobs created through these initiatives.

Huge emphasis was placed on the economic repercussions of the gambling industry, as the 6th Biennial South African Gambling Conference got underway.

The industry has led to an investment of more than R16 billion in gambling and related activities - such as casinos, hotels and horse-racing activities - by 2010. At 42 percent, Gauteng remains by far the largest contributor to the industry's revenue, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 19 percent and the Western Cape at 16 percent.

These figures correlate with the economic outlook of the different provinces. Gauteng is the highest due to the fact that the province's GDP (35%, 2007) increased significantly over the years, followed by KZN (17%) and the Western Cape (15%).

Addressing the conference earlier today, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said: "The New Growth Path requires the creative and collective efforts of all sections of South African society and gambling operators... More than five million jobs are envisaged by 2020 and we need a comprehensive plan, which will assist us to track jobs we would have created in this industry towards the end of 2020."

According to the New Growth Path framework, in the first quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 30 was staggering, 40 percent compared to those aged 30 to 65. 

"This is a worrying phenomenon and [we] would like to urge operators present (at the conference), to play a proactive role in assisting government to overcome this anomaly," said Thabethe.

Thus far, the Peermont Global Group has invested well over R 120 million in a make-over project of Umfolozi Hotel and Convention Resort, creating more than 250 jobs during the construction phase and 80 new jobs upon completion. 

The Eastern Cape Gambling Board also awarded Tsogo Sun's Hemmingway Casino with a new 15-year licence. Tsogo Sun envisages investing more R340 million and creating at least 100 jobs. 

Sun International will spend R 1 billion on the Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth on or before 2012 and create more than 500 direct jobs. 

"I will now call upon the NGB to develop a mechanism on how data will be collated on jobs created by the industry so that we are able to measure progress made towards advancing these policy imperatives," said Thabethe.

Meanwhile, more than R4 billion in taxes from this industry has been collected by 2010. This excludes the general business taxes, which are VAT and company tax. 

However, there is a nine percent decline in revenue in the racing and betting fraternity. This decline will be one of the issues explored at the conference, which will end on Wednesday. - BuaNews