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There was no evidence the gaming board had measured the distance between the school and the gambling premises. From Moneyweb.

Crazy Slots claimed the Desert Palace Hotel objected to its licence merely to eliminate competition and protect its own financial interests. Image: Shutterstock

The Northern Cape High Court has set aside a gaming licence issued to an Upington slot machine company for being too close to a school.

The case was brought by Desert Palace Hotel Resort against the Northern Cape Gambling Board and the gaming company Dymacure, trading as Crazy Slots.

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The court referred the matter back to the provincial gaming board “to deal with in accordance with all applicable statutory and other requirements” after it was found the premises was just 341 metres from the school instead of the requisite 500-plus metres.

What’s interesting about the case is that there was no evidence the gaming board had measured the distance between the school and the proposed gambling premises and, if it had, what method had been used.

Not quite 500m …

A land surveyor for the Desert Palace Hotel measured a distance of 341 metres as the crow flies and 461 metres by road.

The hotel argued that the gambling board did not consider the relevant consideration that the premises is situated within 500 meters of the school and took irrelevant and unsubstantiated information placed before it at the public enquiry.

A public hearing into the granting of the licence was only held at the urging of the hotel, and the board appeared uninterested in the concerns raised about being located so close to a school.

Crazy Slots submitted two measurements from the school main entrance and its corner boundary to the gambling premises and attempted to show the distance was more than 500 metres.

Board defends its decision

The gambling board objected to the “radius” method of calculating distance used by the hotel, and claimed its decision to grant a licence was reasonable, justifiable and procedurally fair.

Not so, said the hotel, claiming the gaming board’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and not rationally connected to the Northern Cape Gambling Act and regulations.

Crazy Slots claimed the hotel objected to its licence merely to eliminate competition and protect its own financial interests.

It argued for a sensible, business-like approach to the regulations dealing with the issue of distance from churches and schools.

On the issue of distance from the school, Crazy Slots tried to argue the actual measurement should be to the (more distant) main entrance of the Goodfellas Restaurant, and claimed the licence was issued to the restaurant, not Crazy Slots. The court saw through this, noting that the licence application was from Crazy Slots on behalf of Goodfellas Restaurant.

The Desert Palace Hotel & Casino Resort is located seven kilometres from Upington CBD at the Upington Golf Course.

In the end, it came down to how you measure 500 metres and there was no meeting of the minds on this point.

“In view of the fact that the site inspection report refers to a different premises and does not contain any evidence that the distance was measured by [the Northern Cape Gambling Board representative], how he had measured it, from what points the measurement was taken, along which route he had measured and what the distance was determined to be, I can come to no other conclusion than that the Gambling Board did not measure the distance between the school and the gambling premises,” reads the judgment.

The gambling board and Crazy Slots were ordered to pay the costs of the case.