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Gaming history in Africa

The biggest gambling market in Africa is South Africa and although horse racing goes back many years, casinos are a recent attraction -- really only taking off in the last 25 years and leading to rapid expansion of larger casinos throughout the continent.

Casinos in South Africa, as we know them, had an interesting start as gambling proper was prohibited in the 1965 Gambling Act. However the Leaders of Transkei, Boprthutaswana, Ciskei and Venda legalised Casinos in their territories. Initially, two companies, Holiday Inn and Southern Sun (a subsidiary of South Africa Breweries) negotiated Casino contracts with Bantustan Government. Then in 1983, Mr Sol Kerzner, a former minority shareholder in Southern Sun Hotels, founded a new and dynamic company, Sun International. By the early 1990s, Sun possessed all 18 homeland licenses, after Mr. Kerzner and local leaders agreed to a high taxation on casino profits in return. As well as securing a monopoly for his company, he also secured self regulating powers on the casino operations and the fact that the local governments had little capital to effectively monitor and audit the casino operations was obviously a major factor in the arrangements. Sun brought in the majority of their staff from Europe, local staff only rose to higher rankings much later. Much of the income from the territories was channelled elsewhere, and Sun spread the casino culture to neighbouring Countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and as far away as Mauritius.

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