A group known as Embo has decided to compete with Sun International for the sole casino license of Nelson Mandela Bay.
The license is currently held by Sun, which operates the Boardwalk Casino & Entertainment World, situated on the waterfront at Port Elizabeth. The casino has 800 slots and 21 tables. The license comes up for renewal next year.
The Embo consortium consists primarily of local businessmen, including Ben Nyaumwe, CEO of Auspex Property. Embo is partnering with WhiteSand Consulting, a gaming specialist with offices in the U.S. in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Miami.
The bid from Embo was revealed in a report by the Herald, which quoted acting CEO Menzi Mbina of the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board, who said, “I received Embo’s bid and that of the Boardwalk Casino, the current license holders. We will now start investigating the bids, hold public hearings, receive objections and make up our minds.”
The new entertainment center would be built on a 33-acre parcel of disused land next to the harbor. The ambitious plans include a casino, hotel, restaurants, retail shopping, train station, cruise ship terminal, ice skating rink, IMAX theater, and parking and childcare facilities. Total investment is pegged at 1.8 billion rand, about $180 million.
If Embo wins the bid, the group plans to convert the Boardwalk Casino property into a convention center for up to 4,000 delegates. The existing Boardwalk conference facility can handle only about 500 people at maximum configuration. The cost of converting the Boardwalk is listed in the bid at about R45 million.
WhiteSand would train the new casino staff and operate the casino at start-up. The consultant would eventually turn over operations to local management.