CAsinos add R143bn to GDP

CASINOS have injected R143billion into the country's gross domestic product (GDP) since gambling was legalised in 1996, said survey released yesterday by the Casino Association of South Africa.

The GDP contribution during the 2008-09 financial year was more than R20billion.

The government is the industry's primary beneficiary, receiving about 37percent of value-add, or R4,1billion, in revenue during the period under review.

The economic effect study, which forms part of the survey, says 28percent of turnover was spent on goods and services, of which more than 40percent favoured BEE companies.

Information used in the survey is based on statistics published by the national and provincial gambling boards, casino companies and independent studies produced by industry related bodies such as the National Responsible Gambling Programme.

The chief executive of the association, Derek Auret, said tourism, both domestic and foreign, had experienced the most market impact of the industry.

"While it cannot be argued that many tourists come to South Africa with the specific objective of gambling, the non-gambling facilities associated with the casino developments have greatly expanded the range of tourism infrastructure, thus enhancing South Africa's status as a destination."

The survey says since 1996 casinos contributed about R286million to corporate social investment activities.

But gambling continues to be controversial, partially because its benefits are largely funded by the losses of others, and the social impact which is difficult to quantify but affects financial circumstances, relationships, health and work.

The report says the industry has created about 48000 industry-related jobs, and together with indirect jobs this figure is close to 90000.