South Africa’s leading gambling and hospitality group, Sun International, has pledged R2 million to the country’s National Solidarity Fund. The money comes directly from 15,000 members of the group’s Most Valued Guests (MVG) loyalty programme, who pledged their points in a bid to help their fellow South Africans.
When the pandemic caused the government to put the country into lockdown, Sun International froze all casino points accumulated by MVG members. The group then offered its members two alternatives – to donate the points to the Solidarity Fund or retain the points until they were able to use them again after lockdown. An amazing 15,000 customers decided to pledge the points towards the fund.
The chief executive officer of Sun International, Anthony Leeming said that the group had been considering practical ways to respond to the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus. He said that a number of MVGs asked Sun International to set up a charity fund to which they could contribute.
“The points represent a hard cost to us that we would have to pay over to whichever property they are redeemed at, so it made sense to divert the rand value of donated points to the Solidarity Fund instead,” said Leeming.
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“Right now, we are all focused on fighting the COVID-19 virus, but a bigger economic battle is looming. The hospitality, gaming and leisure industry has been particularly hard hit, so the economic hardships facing smaller businesses and individuals resonates deeply with us. We applaud the many MVGs who responded with compassion and generosity.”
The Solidarity Fund was created in March this year to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund works with the South African government and the business sector but it is independently administered. The Fund controls the funds donated and aims for complete transparency. All donations and payments from the Fund to the various charities it supports are made public.
So far, R2.61 billion has been donated to the Solidarity Fund out of a R4 billion goal. The Fund aims to prevent the spread of the virus by supporting campaigns and communication measures to flatten the curve. The food relief response has delivered supplies to over 280,000 households.
The interim CEO of the Solidarity Fund, Nomkhita Nqweni thanked Sun International and its patrons for their generosity.
“It is through the collective efforts of contributors like Sun International and their 15 000 customers that enables The Solidarity Fund to support the national health response, contribute to humanitarian relief efforts and mobilise South Africans to drive a united response to the COVID-19,” she said.
“This generous donation will directly benefit those impacted by the pandemic and help The Solidarity Fund to make a real difference by providing Personal Protective Equipment to our frontline health workers, testing kits and food relief to vulnerable communities, amongst other important initiatives.”
Sun International looks forward to reopening its casinos and hotels across South Africa, after the tourism sector was brought to a complete standstill on March 27th. Thousands of South African workers in the industry face an uncertain future. Around 9,500 people are employed by the group. Sun International Shut Down Two Casinos Permanently
Sun International has pledged to implement new measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including social distancing, limiting players at card tables and at slot machines and the highest level of hygiene.