Casino firm or­dered to sus­pend launch

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

HIGH Court judge, Jus­tice Lisebo Chaka-makhooane, yes­ter­day or­dered Gol­drush Group (Pty) Lim­ited and its sis­ter com­pany to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend launch­ing their slot ma­chine busi­ness un­til their dis­pute with AVANI Le­sotho (Pty) Lim­ited is fi­nalised.

Gol­drush Group (Pty) Lim­ited and Gol­drush Le­sotho (Pty) Lim­ited, which trade as Gol­drush, in­tended to start slot ma­chine busi­ness op­er­a­tions at Maseru Mall to­day, but AVANI on Wed­nes­day last week urged the court to in­ter­dict them from op­er­at­ing un­til their court bat­tle be­fore the same court is re­solved.

In the main court case, AVANI Le­sotho (Pty) Lim­ited — trad­ing as Le­sotho AVANI and Maseru AVANI — wants the High Court to set aside the de­ci­sion of the Casino Board to is­sue two casino li­cences to Gol­drush.

AVANI also wants the court to or­der the Casino Board to re­voke the two li­cences it has al­ready is­sued to Gol­drush. Gol­drush Group (Pty) Lim­ited and Gol­drush Le­sotho (Pty) Lim­ited are cited as sec­ond and third re­spon­dents re­spec­tively, while the Casino Board is cited as the first re­spon­dent.

In his af­fi­davit to sup­port the ho­tel group’s case, AVANI Gen­eral Man­ager Jan Adri­aan van Rooyen says: “The grant­ing of the two casino li­cences to the sec­ond and/ or the third re­spon­dents is in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with the ap­pli­cant (AVANI); and for the rea­sons set out here­inafter such grant­ing and is­su­ing was un­law­ful.”

Mr Van Rooyen says he heard through ru­mours Gol­drush was plan­ning to op­er­ate a slot ma­chine busi­ness and made aware of re­fur­bish­ments at Maseru Mall for that pur­pose.

“I, how­ever, made in­ves­ti­ga­tions and it was only on Fri­day 20 May 2016 that it came to my at­ten­tion that the Board had is­sued to the sec­ond and/or the third re­spon­dent two li­cences to op­er­ate a casino in Le­sotho,” he says.

Mr Van Rooyen also ar­gues the li­cences were granted against the casino laws that in­clude Casino Or­der (1989).

“The board must have is­sued such li­cences in vi­o­la­tion of sec­tion 10(1) of the Or­der in that Gol­drush could not have sat­is­fied the board nor could the board have been sat­is­fied that Gol­drush ei­ther owned or had an ac­cept­able sub-lease of premises on which the casino was to be op­er­ated as re­quired by sec­tion 10(1)(a) of the Or­der.”

He fur­ther al­leges Gol­drush did not meet re­quire­ments of the Casino Reg­u­la­tions of 1990 to ac­quire the li­cences.

“It is then clear that Gol­drush could never have been law­fully is­sued with its li­cences and nei­ther could the board have law­fully is- sued them.

“Gol­drush will, if al­lowed to com­mence op­er­at­ing, se­ri­ously prej­u­dice the op­er­a­tions of the ap­pli­cant at its two casi­nos at AVANI Le­sotho and AVANI Maseru.

“The ap­pli­cant an­tic­i­pates that much of its busi­ness will be lost to com­pe­ti­tion by Gol­drush, par­tic­u­larly to the pro­posed casino at the Maseru Mall. In­deed, the very eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity of the ap­pli­cant is at stake.”

Op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, the Casino Board chair­per­son – who is also Ministry of Tourism Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary – Le­feu Ra­mone filed an an­swer­ing af­fi­davit in which he says: “I deny that the grant­ing and is­suance of the li­cences was un­law­ful as the Board has ab­so­lute dis­cre­tion whether to grant or refuse is­suance of li­cences.

“The ap­pli­cant could have ob­jected to the is­suance of the li­cences as far back as 2014 when the sec­ond and third re­spon­dents ap­plied for li­cences as this is made pub­lic…”

He adds: “The sec­ond and third re­spon­dents were is­sued with li­cences as far back as 2014 and be­gan their op­er­a­tions in 2015. It is there­fore de­nied that the ap­pli­cant only knew about this in May 2016.”

How­ever Jus­tice Chaka-makhooane yes­ter­day ruled in favour of AVANI to in­ter­dict Gol­drush from start­ing its op­er­a­tions un­til the main case has been fi­nalised.

Jus­tice Chaka-makhooane made the rul­ing af­ter hear­ing ex­ten­sive ar­gu­ments be­tween AVANI and Gol­drush lawyers on Wed­nes­day last week.

AVANI Gen­eral Man­ager Jan Adri­aan van Rooyen.

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