Themba Ngobese is set to take over the reigns as CE at the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA) at a time when the industry is facing rising challenges to maintain its patchy legitimacy.
CASA unveiled the appointment of Ngobese this week at the same time that it announced the retirement of its founding CE Derek Auret. Ngobese who is currently the Group Compliance & Legal Services Executive of Peermont Global takes over the reigns at CASA on December 31. The position puts him under the spotlight in heading an industry which has grown in leaps and bounds since it was regularized in the post 1994 era and is facing rising challenges its social impact.
The casino industry has grown from a largely underground phenomenon into a regularized industry which boasts annual revenue of about R15bn. The industry has maintained its legitimization through an argument that its adds economic value into the country and in certain localities where it has infused robust commercial activity. It is estimated to employ more than 50000 people. CASA represents 35 of the 37 casinos in South Africa as made by major players like London Clubs International, Peermont Global, Sun International and Tsogo Sun.
Despite its claims the industry has always faced discomfort from many quarters with an argument that its financial benefits add up to stealing from Peter to benefit Paul. Noise of opposition is rising which has seen CASA going on the offensive in recent times. Unveiling its annual survey recently Auret said
“It is thus in the national interest that Government should approach with great caution the imposition of further regulatory restrictions or demands that may threaten the profitability of the casino industry and its ability to create jobs. This is particularly the case in respect of new taxes, which are bound to have an overall negative impact on casino turnover and thus on the tax payable to provinces, as well as on the sustainability of the approximately 52 000 jobs that the industry currently maintains.”
Added Auret “The casino sector is already faced by a regulatory environment that is becoming increasingly onerous as new BEE requirements, corporate social investment demands and community expectations are being imposed as a condition of licence by all provincial gaming boards”.
Commenting on the same survey CASA chairman jabu Mabuza said “One of the principal reasons for the demonstrable success of the casino sector and its ability to contribute so significantly to the realization of South Africa’s development goals has been the constructive relationship that exists between the industry, government and regulators. This has been achieved, I believe, because we share a common interest in ensuring not only that the industry overall is both socially and economically successful, but also that it both is, and is perceived to be, safe”.
From these statements it is clear the industry is a potential pinch. Ngobese will have to be a cunning player to navigate this environment. He has extensive experience.
As Group Compliance & Legal Services Executive since October 2002 at Peermont, Ngobese is responsible for ensuring compliance of the Group with gambling legislation as well as other applicable legislation. He is also responsible for the provision of legal services to Group operations including the drafting and vetting of operational agreements, rendering of legal advice and liaison with external legal advisors.
Prior to joining Peermont, he held senior positions at the Gauteng Gambling Regulatory Authority in the Gauteng Province and the National Gambling Regulatory Authority of South Africa, respectively.
He has over 14 years experience in the gambling industry which he gained both as a gambling regulator and casino operator.
He holds a B. Proc and Bachelor of Laws degrees both from the University of the Witwatersrand as well as a Certificate in Legal Practice from the University of South Africa. Ngobese is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
He also serves on the Boards of the National Responsible Gambling Programme and the South African Chapter of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists.