Silverstar wins casino licence battle - Saturday 12th of March 2005

THE Supreme Court of Appeals yesterday ordered the Gauteng Gambling Board to issue a casino licence to Silverstar Developments.

The judgment effectively puts to an end six years of litigation over the sixth and last casino licence for Gauteng, estimated to be worth R500m.

The gambling board took the matter to the appeals court after the Transvaal High Court rejected a decision by the board in 1998 to refuse a licence to Silverstar.

The appeals court judgment agrees with that of Judge Fanie Mynhardt of the Transvaal High Court, who said Silverstar, the only applicant for the West Rand casino licence, had proposed a viable and sustainable project.

Reasons for the board???s refusal included that Silverstar was highly indebted and would struggle in the event of lower-than-expected income and that Silverstar would rely on cash flow from a temporary casino pending the completion of the project. The board refused to grant the licence to Silverstar even after its merger with Rhino, previously the board???s preferred applicant for the licence.

Board CEO Jacques Booysen said the gambling board would have to meet to consider the judgment before commenting. Gold Reef City Resorts and Akani Leisure, operators of one of the five licences in Gauteng, yesterday renewed their interest to buy the share capital, assets and the possible casino licence of Silverstar, for which they have offered R25m. Gold Reef City Resorts and Akani said while yesterday???s decision was a positive development, the offer was subject to Silverstar getting the licence ???on terms and conditions acceptable to the Gold Reef group'. Gold Reef CEO Steven Joffe said he would only comment after reading the appeals court???s decision. Besides Gold Reef, Gauteng???s other casinos include Caesars Gauteng, Carnival City and Montecasino.

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