The South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) has strongly opposed the introduction of Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs) at multiple shopping malls in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN). The organisation has undertaken a campaign to mobilise all concerned parties into voicing their opposition to the installation of the new gambling stations.
With hearings set to take place in the Eastern Cape for similar installations, Samnet chairperson, Dr Faizal Suliman, expressed concern that this would become a national issue. Hence they were urging all relevant organisations to come out to the hearings to oppose the EBTs.
Explaining the situation, he said four shopping malls in KZN initially applied to the gambling board and the provincial economic department, for permission to the electronic missions. The application process was reportedly done with a lot of ‘stealth’, without proper advertising or consultation.
“It was by chance that one newspaper picked it up, and discovered that they had hearings in places where there wouldn’t be much opposition. So technically abiding by the law, but doing it a way that the bulk of wouldn’t know it,” he said.
Upon hearing about the proposed installations, a coalition of organisations across the region got together and drew up a petition to try and halt the EBTs. They have tried to have the hearings reopened, so that the communities have an oppputunity to voice their opposition.
Suliman described the EBT’s as a form of easy money for the malls, which apart from being haraam for Muslims, was also a way for money to be distributed from the poor to the rich. He felt the EBT’s would greatly contribute to worsening the extent of poverty in the country.
“The fact is there are more than enough casinos in South Africa per capita. South Africa has got far too many compared to what is the standard in Europe etc,” he noted.
With shopping malls frequented by a large number of youth, Suliman suggested they were attempting to trap a whole new generation of people in what was a vicious cycle of gambling.
“You start off with something as simple as a bingo machine, but it inculcates the spirit of gambling,” he said.
Suliman urged the community to come out in the droves in opposition to the EBTs, and to make their concerns heard around the issue.
The petition can be found at www.samnet.co.za and stopebt.com.
For more information on hearing dates, you may contact the SAMNET offices at firstname.lastname@example.org. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)