CoA dismisses casino plans to move to CBD
Botswana’s longest operating casino; Moonlite Casino’s hopes to relocate from the congested Bus rank terminal have been shattered.
The plan was to move from downtown to the up-market iTowers in the Central Business District (CBD).
The relocation plans fell apart after the Court of Appeal (CoA) ruled in favour of the Gambling Authority (GA) and the Attorney General, acting on behalf of the Minister of Trade and Industry, who have filed a suit in court opposing the move.
Moonlite Casino had taken Gambling Authority to the High court and won in their argument that in the rejecting their licence application for the new premises, the GA board had acted in bad faith and was biased against Moonlight because the board chairperson had a conflict of interest as the objector since Three Partners Resort Limited, was a client of the law firm in which the chairperson was a partner.
The CoA bench however threw out the High Court’s ruling citing the fact that Moonlite Casino, continued with the application in front of the GA Board although the Board Chairperson had stated his and his firm’s client’s interests in the matter.
“The Chairperson welcomed both parties to the meeting and declared that his firm (Minchin & Kelly (Botswana)) was representing Three Partners Resorts (PTY) Ltd (the objector) and hence he is conflicted,” reads part of the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd March 2016, where the Chairperson further informed them that if he recused himself from the meeting, Board members present will not form a quorum hence a resolution will not be made on the application.
“… both parties were of the view that the Chairperson had been transparent and they stated that they trusted that he would be objective despite the involvement of his Law Firm,” reads part of a statement in the court paper dated 2nd February 2018.
However a highly placed source at Moonlite Casino has been adamant that the GA intentionally blocked their relocation to protect the interests of Three Partners Resorts whom he suspects are eying the same premises at the iTowers.
“I suspect they have intentions of applying to operate a casino in the area and we are intentionally being blocked from moving there,” he said.
The visibly hurt source narrated how business had come to a standstill since the closure of the road leading into the hotel.
“We hardly get any business here anymore and moving to the CBD would have been our best move yet,” he said.
Despite the setback,the Moonlite Casino Representative said they will continue to find a way to move the business from the bus rank to a more profitable location in the city.
“This is a hopeless situation but we will not give up the fight because if we do, we cease to exist,” he said.
When contacted for a comment, Gambling Authority Chairperson, Thabiso Tafila said the Moonlite application for premises at the CBD was turned down simply because they failed to meet all the necessary requirements and had nothing to do with Three Partners Resorts as they would like to allege.
Tafila, however, noted that if an application were to come before the GA Board meeting all the requirements, there will be no need to turn it down.