Wild Coast gambling
A Sun International promotional photo of gambling at the Wild Coast Sun.
  • The latest extension to the gambling licence for the Wild Coast Sun ends on Tuesday.
  • Owner Sun International is confident it will be granted a new licence – two years after the first one expired.
  • But just hours before the deadline, the Eastern Cape Gambling Board was not answering questions.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

By Wednesday it may be illegal for gambling to continue at the Wild Coast Sun, one of South Africa's oldest casinos – but the regulator responsible for the situation won't say.

The 10-year gambling licence for the resort, owned by Sun International, expired in August 2019. For the past two years the Eastern Cape Gambling Board has granted temporary extensions that allowed it to keep operating. The latest such extension, Sun International told investors this week, runs until 31 August.

What happens then?

"We are in final discussion with the Eastern Cape Gambling Board who have confirmed that we have met all bid requirements," Sun International told Business Insider South Africa on Monday, 30 August. "Consequently we anticipate that the licence will be issued to us on 31 August 2021."

But by mid-day, that gambling board wasn't answering questions. On Monday it promised to do so on Tuesday, but on Tuesday would say only it planned to issue a statement later in the day.

Though it is often marketed as part of a Wild Coast route that falls mostly within KwaZulu-Natal, and is closest to the KwaZulu-Natal town of Port Edward which benefits economically from its proximity, the Wild Coast Sun is just on the Eastern Cape side of the border between the two provinces.

In public hearings shortly before the 10-year licence expired in 2019, representatives from surrounding communities complained that residents and institutions from KwaZulu-Natal benefited more from the casino than did those from the Eastern Cape

Sun International has been expecting a 20-year licence, which proponents argue will allow for greater investment into its operation in a part of the country heavily dependent on tourism – and a destination anchor such as the large Wild Coast resort. The company has assured investors that it is actively lobbying within the regulatory environment, but has had little to say publicly about the delays in the licence.

In its latest six-month period, to the end of June, Sun International reported capital expenditure of R3 million at the Wild Coast Sun – down by half compared to the previous year – out of a South African total of R201 million.

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