The opening of a two-floor bingo and entertainment centre in Chatsworth, Durban has caused outrage in the community. The bingo centre is set to open this week and is causing unrest because of its location.
Bingo Centre a Destructive Temptation
Run by Goldrush Bingo Chatsworth, the bingo and entertainment centre will be a few metres away from an EasyPay office which distributes social grants and pensions to the community. Independent Online (IOL) reported that the KwaZulu-Natal Social Developemt MEC Weziwe Thusi is against having the bingo centre so close to a pay point. “By having this temptation, people can easily collect their grants and go across thinking they could possibly make more money. It’s our responsibility to look after the elderly; to ensure their money is kept with them, for whatever they require for that month,” she said.
Chatsworth ward councillor Tony Govender said they totally opposed the idea of the bingo centre. “Four years ago, we said in no uncertain terms we will not allow this thing in Chatsworth because we were aware of the social ills it could create. Now it is here, it will eat into this community. The poorest of the poor are being targeted here. And what’s even more shocking is it is directly opposite the EasyPay,” he said.
Chatsworth is a predominately Indian community in South Durban. Majority of the population are poor and working-class people. Recently, the community was in the news after residents protested outside the police station demanding justice for the death of a nine-year-old girl in a hijacking.
Gambling Brings Out the Worst in Chatsworth
Govender is worried that crime, prostitution, school absenteeism, and drugs will be on the rise once the bingo centre opens. “We had the Golden Nugget here years ago. I remember what was happening. And now, we are going to again cause severe headache and more heartache in family circles,” he said.
They have been opposed to and fighting gambling in the township for years. Community members fought off a proposal to have electronic bingo machines installed in malls in the area. Former ward councillor Brandon Pillay was caught by surprise that the bingo centre is ready to be opened because the matter for the first building plan is still in court. “How is it that these guys are getting ready to open now? It was clear from the beginning that the residents here wanted nothing to do with these machines. I haven’t been made aware of the construction, and I have been caught by surprise,” he said. They will be planning pickets outside the centre.
Goldrush Gaming Group said in a statement that recent legislation now allows them to operate electronic bingo was recently passed “which has settled the question of whether or not Goldrush Bingo Chatsworth can open and trade”. It also claims that bingo is the least harmful form of gambling with the “lowest propensity for addiction and problem gambling”.
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