David Phillpotts, a resident who has lived in Wynberg for 35 years, is fed-up with the “in your face” issues – such as drug-related crime and prostitution – that he claims accompany gambling and he fears their impact on the youth.
Ms Davidson said the WRRA had been objecting to gambling establishments since Hollywoodbets applied for a betting outlet two years ago. “We weren’t informed of their application, and no one saw the small advert that appeared in the newspapers. In the last two years, these gambling outlets have been springing up in close proximity to residential areas. I don’t know why this has happened,” she said, noting that the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act stated that applications for a licence would not be approved if the development was undesirable from “social, religious, educational, cultural, economic, environmental, transport and land-use aspects”.
She said gambling outlets only added to Wynberg’s already serious drug and alcohol problems as they attracted addicts.
“So why is the province issuing so many gambling licences? Could it be because gambling licences are one of the few own-revenue sources available to provinces?”Wynberg police spokesman Captain Ntombi Nqunqeka, said drugs were a reality in some betting outlets.
“These outlets are drawing lots of people from various places outside Wynberg. Most of the drug lords are taking advantage of this situation and are also operating drugs inside the outlet. While busy gambling on the other side he is busy dealing in drugs.
“The police are monitoring this behaviour on a daily basis and some of the drug lords are being arrested and yet others have a tendency of swallowing these drugs before even getting arrested,” said Captain Nqunqeka.
She said that last Thursday Wynberg police and Metro police chased a 39-year-old drug dealer suspected of swallowing drugs. They had chased the same man in May when he was arrested for selling drugs in front of Lewis Stores in Wynberg Centre. The police caught him before he could swallow a condom full of tik. They say the man usually sells in Langley Road in front of Hollywoodbets.
Captain Nqunqeka also said a drug dealer had been caught in a police sting operation in Hollywoodbets recently.
At the Protea Sub-council meeting last week, Ward 62 councillor Liz Brunette argued against a liquor licence application by G-Bets. The company has an outlet in Maynard Road and its head office is in Johannesburg. Ms Brunette said the outlet was in an area plagued by crime, particularly at night. The abuse of alcohol and drugs was also rife in Wynberg and she was concerned about the mix of gambling and liquor and the possibility of people leaving the venue late at night intoxicated.
She said the liquor licence application process was flawed and officials okayed the licence “even though they trip over people sitting on the pavement when they go in and out of the premises”.
The gambling board’s CEO, Primo Abrahams said go-bet, which is based in Paarden Eiland and not connected to G-Bets, had applied for a licence to operate from Betting World’s old premises at 155 Main Road, although it was still pending.
While Betting World had moved, he said the TAB, which has a totalisator licence and shared the shop, was still there.
When the Bulletin visited the shop on Monday August 14, it was empty. Jerry Nicholas, owner of go-bet, said they had withdrawn their application to open a branch at Betting World’s old premises because there had been too many objections.
“This meant it would require a public hearing and this would have been costly,” said Mr Nicholas.
The Bulletin contacted Supabets, Hollywoodbets and Olimp for comment regarding alleged crime at or near their outlets. Maria Labuschagne of Olimp said they would not comment at this time. Phillip Anastassopoulos, director of Supabets, said their businesses had a pristine environment and were professionally managed and controlled.
“None of our business outlets allow food or alcohol to be consumed on the premises. Strict security measures are in place, and while we cannot guarantee no criminal activity in and around the precinct, we do whatever is necessary to avoid loitering or drug dealing,” said Mr Anastassopoulos. He added that no drugs were allowed in their premises.
Tania van Eck, Hollywoodbets regional manager, said the company did not condone any criminal activity on its premises and tried to deter drug dealing and other unsavoury activities.
“In order to curb drug-related activities, we have added extra cameras inside and outside our shops and we have also increased our security by putting more feet on the ground in the form of security guards,” she said.
Hollywoodbets also cooperated with local authorities allowing regular inspections and raids and worked with them to find solutions “to this social ill that plagues the Western Cape”.
The company also ran several corporate social investment projects, she said.
Ms Van der Westhuizen, of Betting World, said she was not permitted to respond to questions about a possible link between gambling and crime and referred the Bulletin to her superiors, who were in a meeting at the time this edition went to print.
For further information about the WCGRB, visit www.wcgrb.co.za and select guidelines.