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April 30, 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa: The New Industry Vogue of Casino Conventions

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The rise of casino resorts complete with convention and event facilities has been a growing trend as hoteliers and entertainment moguls the world over add to their portfolio of properties. One reason for this development has been the increase in demand for high-end entertainment for travellers as air traffic and international tourism continue on their upward trajectory.

In September last year, Las Vegas tycoon Steve Wynn spoke at the Global Gaming Expo, G2E. He said that nongaming revenue isn’t just critical to the success of casino-resorts now – it’s always been that way. He stressed that bankrolling a successful resort on nongaming dollars is nothing new. “You’ve got to give people something they’re willing to get on an airplane and submit to a body search for,” he said. “That ain’t a slot machine, friends, and it sure as hell ain’t a baccarat table.”

Recent news from the international industry supports his beliefs. In the Philippines, the Resort World Manila casino complex is ramping up to incorporate a grand ballroom and 4,000-seat convention centre that opens its doors in July. Adelaide Casino in Australia has plans for a luxury hotel as part of its redevelopment, while Aquis Casino Resort in Queensland has incorporating a convention centre in its building plans.

This sentiment rings true for the African market as well, with Tsogo Sun’s impressive portfolio including over 90 hotels and 14 casino and entertainment destinations throughout the continent, the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi. South Africa’s Montecasino and Gold Reef City in Johannesburg and Suncoast in Durban are just a few of these with ample conference space. The company will begin construction on a 500-room hotel complex in Cape Town soon, according to Business Day, bringing the number of Tsogo Sun rooms in the city centre to 2,000. The R680-million investment will include banqueting and conference facilities and is to be completed by September 2017.

Sun International has recently bought its opposition, the Peermont Group, which owns Emperor’s Palace, Graceland in Secunda, Khoroni in Thohoyandou and several other casinos and hotels across South Africa and Botswana, according to Business Report. Their new R3-billion casino and hotel complex will be part of the Pretoria-east area to be known as Time Square, which will also include a 5-star hotel and conference centre with 100 luxury rooms and 10 suites, as well as an 8 000-seat arena.

But what draws people in droves to these establishments, and why are convention spaces in casinos so popular? Quite simply, both the gaming and tourism industries are in a golden age. An age that hotel groups have noticed, where work and play go hand in hand, where the experience is king. According to Steve Wynn, another important reason for casino-resorts’ success is the culture of service it creates for guests. His aim is for his staff to take personal responsibility for customers when doors open. “How do you get your employees, with no boss or supervisor watching, to feel it’s important to impress the guests on a personal level?” Wynn asks. “If you can do that, you win all bets, no matter what the building looks like.”

Casino Stats & Main Casino Attractions in SA



Cities with Gambling


Horse-racing Tracks


Sports-betting Parlours


Casino Hotels






Table games


Slot machines

23 655

Poker tables


Minimum Bet

$0.01 (R 0.12)

Maximum Bet

$10,000 (R 118,439)

Total Casino sqm


Total Convention sqm


Source: World Casino Directory







Emperors Palace


Peermont Hotels

Theatre of Marcellus

The Odeon Showbar

Marc Antony’s Cigar Lounge

The Barnyard Theatre

Nu Metro Cinemas

The CODESA Walkway

Next to OR Tambo Airport

D’Oreale Grande – 5 star

Mondior – 4 star

Metcourt – 3 star

Metcourt Suites – 3 star

Free Wi-Fi

Groups of 8 to 3 000

Centre Court: 2,698m2

Assembly Room (sub-divisible into 6 venues): 1,656m2

South Wing: 13 venues

Theatre of Marcellus: 1 000 seats







Bird Garden

Ten Pin Bowling


Cantare Dinner & Dance

Pieter Toerien Theatre & Studio

The Teatro


The Palazzo Montecasino – 5 star

Southern Sun Montecasino – 5 star

SunSquare Montecasino – 4 star


Montecasino Ballroom: 675m2 with 360m2 welcome foyer

La Toscana: 220 cinema-style seats

Montecasino Conference Room: 120 cinema-style seats

Executive Boardroom: 16 seats

The Palazzo Boardroom: 12 seats

The Palazzo Castello: 50 cinema-style seats

The Palazzo Soave: 50 cinema-style seats

The Pivot Conference Centre: 1,400m2


Gold Reef City


Theme Park

4D Theatre

Turtle Creek Putt Putt

The Lyric Theatre

The Magic Company


Southern Sun Gold Reef City – 4 star

Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel – 4 star

Conference Centre: 550 cinema-style seats

Lyric Theatre: 1 100 seats


Suncoast Casino


The Magic Company

Suncoast Spa


Suncoast Towers – 4 star

SunSquare Suncoast – 4 star

The Colony Room: 200m2

The Delano Room: 400m2



The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World


The Boardwalk News Café

Africology Spa

Kiplings Brasserie

Events & Entertainment

Sun Boardwalk – 5 star

Boardwalk International Convention Centre: 1 700 cinema-style seats

Tsitsikamma Room: 1 680 cinema-style seats

Ironwood: 50 cinema-style seats

Redwood: 50 cinema-style seats

Stinkwood: 60 cinema-style seats



GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World


Events & Entertainment

The Ice Station Ice Rink

Beijing Orchid Restaurant

Magic Bowling

Magic Arcade

Nu Metro Cinema



Grand Hotel – 4 star

City Lodge Hotel GrandWest – 3 star


Good Hope Suites: 170 seats

Grand Arena: 5 000 seats, 7 000 standing

Hanover Street: end-of-year events

Roxy Revue Bar: theatre-style presentations

The Ice Station: 1 000 banquet-style seats

The Market Hall: 900 seats


Emerald Resort & Casino


Animal World


Pins Bowling Alley

I-Zone (video games)

Rock Climbing

Adventure Golf

Liquid Living Houseboats

Emerald Hotel – 4 star

Bush Lodges – 4 star

River Resort – 3 star


Kilimanjaro: 265.5m2

Kilimanjaro 1,2,3: 88.5m2

Mombasa: 36.3m2

Nairobi: 36.3m2

River Resort: 119m2

Events & Exhibition Centre: 3,996m2


Sun City Resort


Two Golf courses

Entertainment & events




Fastest zip slide in the world

4X4 Quad Bikes

Big Five Safari (Pilanesberg Nature Reserve)

Valley of the Waves

Kamp Kwena


Adventure tours

Maze of the Lost City

Sun City Main Hotel – 4 star

Sun City Cascades Hotel – 5 star

Cabanas Hotel – 3 star

The Palace of the Lost City – 5 star

Sun City Resort Amphitheatre: 800 cinema-style seats

Hall of Treasures: 800 Cinema-style seats

The Pilanesburg Room: 1 000 cinema-style seats

The Royal Ballroom: 1 200 cinema-style seats

The Superbowl: 6 000 cinema-style seats

Venues also available at the Palace of the Lost City, Cabanas and Sun City Hotel & Casino



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