IOL / 25 JULY 2018 - 06:58 / JASON FELIX
Cape Town - A proposal to build a new casino and hotel in Somerset West has sparked outrage from the community who claim the City has not been playing open cards about the development.
At the same time, expert Pieter Human has raised concerns that the local economy could be impacted should a new casino be opened.
An artist's impression of what the proposed casino in Somerset West will look like. Picture: Supplied
Human completed a thesis on the social impact of casinos in the Western Cape at the University Stellenbosch.
He said the negative socio-economic impacts of casino developments on local economies were often misunderstood, severely underestimated and often intentionally ignored by parties with vested interests in such developments.
“The National Lottery and the slots route operations has the lower- to middle-income sector as their target market and already makes gambling easily accessible to anyone in the Helderberg. This is generally a very vulnerable sector of our community and the social impacts of compulsive gambling on this sector could be potentially devastating,” Human said.
He said the proposed casino in the Helderberg would have an almost exclusive local clientele due to accessibility.
“It will not draw capital from any other geographic area and will have a severe detrimental effect on our local economy. An expected turnover of hundreds of millions of rand per annum will change spending patterns in the Helderberg considerably and all business owners and employers should be very concerned about this.
“Job losses are inevitable and will not be countered by the suggested job creation in the casino industry,” he said.
According to the application for rezoning from Headland and Southern Sun, a division of Tsogo Sun, a portion of the land formed part of the Somerset West Golf Course but the site had been sold to Tsogo Sun for the development of a hotel and casino.
Provision is made for a retail outlets and restaurants, as these are usually associated with a casino complex. There are essentially two buildings - a multiple-parking structure which is associated with the casino and the casino building itself.
A social impact assessment revealed that the proposed casino, hotel and associated restaurants would create 650 permanent and in-house outsourced jobs. Of the 650 permanent employment opportunities, 100 will be low-skilled, 200 semi-skilled and 350 skilled. An additional 300 employment opportunities will be created for businesses that provide services to the casino, hotel and associated restaurants.
Stephen Leppan, chairperson of the Helderberg Residents Association, said there appears to be some secrecy about the project.
“The community knows little about this. We don’t even know what we should comment about or object to. This has not been a fair process, and as far as I am concerned there has been no public participation on this project,” he said.
Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for urban development and transport, said the City advertises all applications for a rezoning or change in land use to the public in newspapers.
“Comments and objections are considered by the Municipal Planning Tribunal before a decision is made,” he said.
The closing date for public comment is August 6.
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