KZN to get “Mini Casino’s” in Shopping Malls

KZN is about to experience an outbreak of social issues with the placement of 3000 Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBT’s) / Slot Machines in shopping centers and bringing gambling into our suburbs. The People’s Forum against Electronic Bingo Terminals (TPAEBT) is a Forum of community,religious, social, welfare, political and other organizations that represents over 3 million […]

KZN is about to experience an outbreak of social issues with the placement of 3000 Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBT’s) / Slot Machines in shopping centers and bringing gambling into our suburbs.

The People’s Forum against Electronic Bingo Terminals (TPAEBT) is a Forum of community,religious, social, welfare, political and other organizations that represents over 3 million people, who are outraged by these “mini casinos”. They have appointed attorneys Franke and Associates to represent them to object to the rollout of EBT’s.

The Forum consists of the following organizations:

1. SANCO (South African Civic Organisation KZN
2. Phoenix Child Welware Society
3. Childline KZN
4. Chatsworth Child Welfare
5. KwaDukusa Child Welfare
6. Juma Musjid (Grey Street Mosque)
7. Nazareth Baptist Church
8. DAFTA (Durban Association for the Aged)
9. ANC Youth League Ward 52
10. Lord Ganesha Float Procession
11. South African Tamil Federation
12. Peoples Church of God
13. Phoenix Ministers Fraternal
14. Helping Hands
15. Bayview Flats Residents
16. Ubuntu Community Organisation
17. Mount Mohriah Residential Area
18. Ward 52 Representitive Rajen Manowah
19. Church of Zion
20. National Council on Problem Gambling
21. Mount Royal Residential Area

The locations that have been approved by the KZN Gambling Board are:

1. Grand Bingo Ladysmith
2. Gold Rush Chatsworth
3. Gold Rush Phoenix
4. Galaxy Bingo Amanzimtoti
5. Galaxy Bingo Midlands Mall
6. Galaxy Bingo Empangeni
7. Galaxy Bingo South Coast Mall
8. Galaxy Bingo Gateway Theatre of Shopping
9. Galaxy Bingo Pavillion Shopping Centre
10. Boss Gaming Southway Mall
11. Gold Rush Malvern
12. Gold Rush Richards Bay
13. Gold Rush Scottburgh

The Electronic Bingo Terminals are slot machines in disguise. As in the case of Akani Egoli (Pty) Ltd & Others vs The Chairperson of the Gauteng Gambling Board & Others (Case No. 17891/06, 30 July 2008) the court found that the game played on an EBT is not bingo and is “none other than a slot machine”.

Sham Maharaj, Chairman of Phoenix Child and Family Welfare is heading up the Forum and is urging people to join in the fight against this epidemic, which is a cancer to our society.

“KZN already has over 6 000 slot machines in casinos, bars and taverns. We are saturated with machines, lotto, horse racing and online gambling compound this. Putting another 3000 slot machines in shopping centres is totally unacceptable!”

“It’s like throwing salt into the sea. Why do we need more, we have enough”, he said.

Phoenix Child Welfare is inundated everyday with numerous complaints of abuse, poverty and crime as a result of uncontrolled gambling in the bars and taverns which have 5 slots machines and are now applying for 40 more machines via a Type “B” application. Many abused women and children are seek refuge to nearby shelters.

Research has further shown that people living within a 30 km radius of a gambling operation are twice as likely to become compulsive gamblers. People at the bottom of the socio economic ladder are most vulnerable. Further, the gambling population has high rates of depression, mania, drug abuse and personality disorders.

A website www.stopebt.com, a Facebook page Stop EBT and a Twitter profile @stopebt is already active. The official hashtag for the campaign is #stopebt

“We are urging people to go to the website and pledge their support by signing the petition. Our aim is to do whatever it takes, even going door to door to get people to help us stop this”, said Maharaj.

V. Mohamed, Chief Trustee of the Juma Musjid (Grey Street Mosque), the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, slammed the propsal of having mini casinos in shopping centres. He said that it was against the Muslim religion and beliefs to visit shopping centres that house gambling establishments. This impacts on our communities constitutional rights to shop at a centre of their choice. He will be taking this up with the Mall owners and if necessary call for a boycott of shopping centres housing mini casinos.

Brandon Pillay, Chairperson of Bayview Civic Association and ANC Ethekwini Councillor said, ”Mini casinos in shopping centres will lead to many people gambling money that they would have used to buy food and pay bills. The temptation is far greater.”

The Group is concerned that parents will leave children unattended in these shopping centres.

Raj Govender of National Council on Problem Gambling (GAMHELP) said “We are currently faced with a huge problem in trying to help people overcome their gambling addiction. Part of the counseling process is to stay away from gambling areas.”

“If these mini casinos are situated in shopping centres, they will not be able to visit these malls, which is in fact against their human rights. Even the National Minister Rob Davies has come out against the Bingo Slot Machines.”

Regional Secretary of SA National Civic Organisation (SANCO), Khaya Sibiya, has expressed great dismay and shock at the rollout of the mini casinos in shopping centres. He believes that employees at the malls will gamble their hard earned money and it must be stopped.

Religious organizations are also up in arms over the mini casinos. Reverend Lesley Munsamy , of the Phoenix Ministries , who represents over 250 pastors and 20 000 followers condemned the KZN Gambling Board for allowing this.

“How can the KZN Gambling Board encourage this in the heart of the communities that are already dealing with so much? This affects the poorest of the poor and will lead to other social problems.”

The President of the South African Tamil Federation, Karthy Moonthsamy, expressed great disappointment at this proposal as he also believes there is an oversaturation of gambling in our society.

Reverend Cyril Pillay of Chatsworth is horrified at the proposed location of the Chatsworth site. “It is in close proximity to schools and churches and has not even been zoned for commercial use. We will not rest until this evil proposal is defeated.” he said.

Enoch Mthembu, spokesperson for the 3 million strong Shembe Church was enraged at this proposal saying that the Church will call for mass action and a boycott of the shopping centres housing mini casinos which are going to affect our members and society at large. He said that we have enough gambling and appeal to the conscience of KZN Gambling Board, to look at the harm that they are causing.

The Forum will be writing to the new Finance MEC Belinda Scott to urge her to act in this matter and stop the proposed amendments to the Act, legalizing Electronic Bingo Terminals, which are in fact slot machines.

Head of the ANC Youth League in Phoenix, Phakamani Buthelezi, has also expressed his outrage and questioned the reason for rushing the decision. “Are they trying to get this finalized before the new Gambling Board is appointed?”

“The youth of the area will be adversely affected by this senseless rollout . We already have casinos, lottery, horse racing and Limited Payout Machines. Now why do we need more gambling. This epidemic will rape our people!!!”, said Buthelezi.

Chairman of Childline KZN, Mervyn Sigamoney was outraged and disappointed at this attempt by KZN Gambling Board to introduce more gambling into our already troubled society. He also questioned whether the new mini casinos have a corporate social investment program.

Sigamoney also stated, that when the KZN Gambling Act was passed, it was never the intention to have Electronic Bingo Terminals and to create proliferation of gambling in our society.