An empty row of slot machines
  • Major South African casinos are now open for business – but not quite to the general public.
  • Both Sun International and Tsogo Sun are limiting casino entry to members of their respective player schemes. If you want in, you need to sign up.
  • Regulations for casinos require them to keep track of exactly who enters, with ID numbers and residential addresses recorded.
  • This way, casinos say, their customers at least don't need to bring along proof of address with every visit.
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South Africa's big casinos are open for business again – but not exactly to the general public.

Both Sun International and Tsogo Sun this week confirmed their casino floors have been restricted to members only, Most Valued Guest's (MVG) loyalty card members in the case of Sun International, and Gaming Rewards for Tsogo.

Non-members are asked to sign up to the schemes before being allowed to enter in both cases.

Like their peers in many industries, the casino loyalty schemes are used to gather data on customer behaviour and incentivise specific actions through rewards and prompts. Now they serve to satisfy government's demand for the tracking of patrons under the strict conditions imposed on casinos.

Casinos are required to take down the full name, identity or passport number (and note the nationality), residential address, and cellphone number of any visitor.

Those records must be produced on demand by the minister of tourism, and can also be included in the national coronavirus tracking database the government is assembling.

In theory those details will allow for efficient contact tracing; all the details are required in case people change addresses or cellphone numbers, the government has said.

But casinos are also required to prevent queues and maintain social distancing between patrons, which is hard to do while taking down copies of proof-of-address documents at entrances.

Conference organisers, for business-related conferences limited to 50 people, are likewise required to keep detailed records of all attendees, although those records are not specifically available to the minister of tourism on request.

Restaurants are required to keep records of the names and addresses of anyone who receives a delivery – but do not have to ask for any details of sit-down customers. 

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