Suspension of KZN Gaming and Betting Board is closing the door after the horse has bolted

Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:

The suspension of the Gaming and Betting Board by KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott is a clear case of closing the door after the horse has bolted.

In September last year the DA raised the matter of public hearings and the issuing of bingo licences by the Board KZN Finance Portfolio Chairperson, KK Nkosi.

This was subsequently followed by a meeting of the finance portfolio committee, in October, with MEC Scott to deal with my concerns.

Issues raised at this meeting were:

  • The legality of the issuing of EBT “Electronic Bingo Terminal” licences
  • Awarding of licences in shopping centres
  • The Chairperson of the Gaming and Betting Board Mrs Zulu making statements to the media that she was not Chairperson
  • The investigation by the Public Protector into certain members of the Board and alleged irregularities.

At the same meeting the MEC agreed with all the concerns raised by the DA and placed a moratorium on the issue of Bingo licences.   The question is simply – with all the evidence supplied to the MEC why did she wait for four months to fire the Chairperson and the Board Members.

It is abundantly evident that some of the applicants for bingo licences were so sure that they would be granted licences that they entered into property leases and even began shop refurbishments last year.

The DA believes that the following questions still need answers;

  • When were the 650 machine licences issued by the board?
  • What section of the Act was used in the issue of EBT licences?
  • What regulations were followed in the process of these licences?

The DA calls upon MEC Scott to immediately institute a full investigation into this debacle by the Board and certain of its members.  Should it be found that irregular and illegal gaming licences were issued then criminal charges must be brought against those members suspected.

The DA further calls upon the MEC to ensure that any gaming establishments operating under illegal licences are immediately shut down.

The only way for the MEC and her department to save face, is to act and to do so swiftly.