Casino licence war plays out in court - Tuesday 3rd of March 2009

The Lukhanji Leisure group will keep its Queenstown casino licence, but the licence for Mthatha is still up for grabs.

Elonwabeni Resorts , the company which lost its bid for the Mthatha licence, and the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board are still trying to reach agreement around Mthatha.

This follows a settlement of sorts in a massive litigation action around the two lucrative casino licences.

Elonwabeni Resorts and Ekuphumleni Resorts, which failed in their respective bids for the Mthatha and Queenstown licences, had asked the Grahamstown High Court to review and set aside the board’s decision to award the licences to Peermont Global for Mthatha and Lukhanji Leisure for Queenstown.

The two companies claimed in court papers that there was, at best, a “confused, irrational and unfair” approach to the board’s scoring of the bids, or “deliberate bias” by some members of the board which had unfairly “skewed” the results in the favour of Peermont Global and Lukhanji Leisure.

However, as a matter of “practicality”, Ekuphumleni Resorts has effectively withdrawn its court application because the Queenstown casino has been operational since December 2007.

According to the attorney for Ekuphumleni Resorts, Steve Gough , the matter of who would pay the legal costs of the application had not yet been settled and the company was not abandoning the “factual basis of their attack” on the award of the licence as it might still have a material bearing on litigation going forward.

However, Peermont Global has declined the Mthatha licence.

The court case has been postponed until May.

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