In a bid to offset losses from the forced closure of its brick-and-mortar gambling venues due to COVID-19, Tsogo Sun Gaming is said to be looking at other sources of revenue. South Africa’s premier casino operator is reportedly eyeing the online gambling and sports betting market, and this has even been confirmed by the group’s chief executive officer, Chris du Toit.
According to the CEO, the group is “in an advanced stage of entering the online betting industry.” He said that online gambling was a “separate segment of the market” but that it was “a natural progression for casinos to offer products online, and if done responsibly on licensee level, can protect the substantial investment and jobs created by casinos.”
The novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc on Tsogo Sun Gaming’s numbers for the year. The gaming and entertainment giant said that its estimate is that it has lost over R400 million in revenue due to the virus – and these numbers were only up to March 31st, 2020. Since the bulk of the damage was caused in the weeks following that, Tsogo Sun Gaming is looking at billions of ZAR in damage.
Du Toit said that until March 15th, the group had been performing well and in line with expectations. However, COVID-19 had caused “devastation” to the group, and to the industry and economy as a whole. As a result, Tsogo Sun saw its debt increase to R12 billion. It is with these numbers in mind that the group is looking elsewhere to expand; and what better direction than the fast-growing online gambling sphere.
One doesn’t have to look too far to see what Du Toit means about a “natural progression” to an online platform. Take the South African lottery as a case in point. We reported recently that the sale of tickets purchased online or via banking apps surged during lockdown. The National Lottery operator, Ithuba has noted a substantial growth in the number of online lottery players and more than 900,000 South Africans are now members of the official Ithuba site.
Players will find it easier to get out of their familiar comfort zone and play/buy lottery tickets in a different form if the platform to which they are switching to is safe and robust, with similar features. The Ithuba website has the familiar logo and the same products sold at physical lottery retailers. Players are simply buying their tickets in a paperless form. If Tsogo Sun can offer quality casino games that players are used to finding on the casino floors in their physical properties, only online, the group will find a public open to his type of market.
Tsogo Sun’s planned online gambling platform will be entering a competitive market. There are already scores of excellent gaming sites that are fully customized for the local player. Sites such as Springbok Casino, Europe Casino, Casino Tropez, Thunderbolt Casino and Punt Casino offer fun and rewarding casino slots and table games, provided by the best software companies in the business. These sites welcome new South African players with risk-free bonuses and large deposit bonuses. Another big-ticket attraction is the fact that players can pay for their gaming sessions in ZAR, using banking options familiar to them.