South Africa’s lockdown measures hit the land-based casino industry hard. However, as restrictions begin to ease the sector is already bouncing back.

Source: Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

South Africa’s land-based casino industry has been a major source of revenue for decades. The rigorous lockdown measures that the country enforced had a huge impact on its brick-and-mortar gambling establishments, and thus contributed to the overall economic downturn related to COVID-19. However, there are signs that suggest a good post-lockdown recovery for the sector.

South Africa’s Impressive Market

Many countries in Africa are emerging as potentially prosperous gambling markets, and South Africa’s industry (which has shown year-on-year growth for the past decade) is among the most established and profitable on the continent. The only country that currently generates more revenue is Egypt; the North African country has gambling-related profits that are 35% higher than its Southern neighbour.

Hit Hard by COVID-19

South Africa imposed some of the world’s strictest social distancing and lockdown measures in response to the novel coronavirus, which caused the nation’s economy to grind to halt. Almost every industry was affected, and non-essentials like restaurants and casinos were hit the hardest. Tsogo Sun’s gambling arm, Tsogo Sun Gaming, lost an estimated US$11.6.05 million.

Staging a Serious Comeback

Happily, as social distancing regulations start to ease, it looks as if South Africa’s casinos are already bouncing back. While several businesses including smaller bed-and-breakfasts, beauty salons and eateries were forced to shut down permanently, casinos around the country are already showing renewed profits.

Lockdown has been relaxed into a curfew situation, allowing casinos and other businesses to operate between 9:00 am to 8:30 pm every day. And players seem to be benefitting as much as the operators themselves in the two weeks that this has been permitted, Powerbet Gaming has paid out 142 jackpots worth more than ZAR 50,000 (or US$ 3,000) and has even minted not one but two new millionaires.

Graham Wood, Chief Operating Officer for hospitality of resort hotel and casino chain Sun International, reported trading levels had already reached 50% to 60% of the previous year. And since the industry contributes around 1% to the country’s overall economy, this is good news for all citizens of South Africa.

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