• The huge Sun Time Square casino in Menlyn, Pretoria "is trading behind expectations" its owner Sun International says.
  • Its share of the Gauteng gambling market was only around 13% at the end of nine months of operation.
  • Sun International fought the community and competitors for years to build the casino – with promises that it would be a "sure thing" money maker, including in tax revenues.

The Sun Time Square Casino in Menlyn east of the Pretoria city centre "is trading behind expectations" its owner Sun International said in a trading update it released to the market late on Friday afternoon.

"As a result of disappointing trading and a high interest charge, Sun Time Square has incurred a significant loss before tax," it said, without providing a rand amount.

Between its opening on 1 April 2017 and the end of that year the casino had booked R827 million in revenues, Sun said, and its share of gambling in the Gauteng province is around 13%.

But it is "trading behind expectations".

The company borrowed heavily to build Sun Time Square right in the commercial heart of Menlyn, a high-income neighbourhood. It is due to spend another R230 million on the complex in 2018. 

Sun Time Square was set up as a transplant of the casino licence under which Sun International operated the Morula Sun, 50 kilometres north of Menlyn.

The transplant was fraught. A community group of thousands, and organisations such as churches, objected vociferously to having a casino in Menlyn. Two gambling competitors, Peermont and Goldrush, went to court to object to the new casino. Once construction was underway, locals protested about a lack of local job creation.

At times, Sun International would later say, it seemed impossible.

But it was finally completed – in part on the back of promises that it was a sure-fire winner.

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