Skip to main content

Sun International Concludes Investigation, Packs Up and Leaves Nigeria for Good

The African region has been one of the rapidly developing gaming fields on a global scale for the past years, but recent months see a rather sluggish performance from some of the casino locations in operation in Nigeria. As it was recently confirmed, casino operator and developer Sun International is quickly approaching its final days of development in the country following a closure initiative starting this spring and affecting several of its gaming facilities worldwide

The casino developer based in South Africa is making an attempt to ensure a bright future when it comes to its financial assets and investments across a wide range of markets. Following a period of consideration, Sun National decided to focus on developing its gaming offerings under more favorable conditions than those in Nigeria and the only thing standing in its way out is linked to a previous investment in Tourist Company of Nigeria dating back to 2006.

Now it has been confirmed that the process of investigation is approaching its final stages, being the only thing left to arrange before the developer exits Nigeria for good.

Major Shareholder Investigation Triggered

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been looking into a controversial situation involving the casino developer and the Ibru family, also owns a stake in the company. The latter has previously questioned the nature of the purchase deal involving Sun International and the 49-percent stake which has prompted the launch of a special investigation aiming to shed more light both to the deal and the trading records of Tourist Company of Nigeria.

It could be recalled that back then the casino developer managed to purchase a 49-percent stake in the company and effectively became the largest shareholder in its structure. More than $50 million was poured in the hotel and casino management company, further boosting operation in the region. It should be noted that the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos is overseen by Tourist Company of Nigeria.

Back in 2016, it was made known that several of the employees of Sun International were held up in Nigeria and later released, starting a chain of events which eventually resulted in the casino developer’s falling behind in comparison to rivals in the field.

Facilities Closure and Then Some

The struggle has been visible by the following decision of this March which saw the casino developer shutting down operation of several venues. In an attempt to cut debt, the casino operator has opted for the closure of the Fish River Sun, Sun Nao Casino in Colombia and the international VIP businesses in both South Africa and Panama.

This has been done since VIP players did not express the previously forecasted interest and the business continued performing with less success than the previously projected rates. Once the operations were shut down, the developer shifted its focus to other facilities having more potential for future profitability, to the liking of South Africa’s Boardwalk Casino and Hotel as well as to improve the operation of Carousel Casino located in the North West province.

March witnessed the official launch of the brand-new Time Square Casino Hotel in Pretoria which according to the most recent results issued this Monday has managed to amass income of some R582 million over its months of operation. In the meantime, South African debt to the name of Sun National was alleviated by an R1.6 billion equity raise generated over the month of June. Operating loss in Nigeria reached a total of R12 million.

Nigerian Youth Drawn to Online Gaming

What should be taken into account is that Nigeria comprises to only 1 percent of Sun National’s international operation, whereas South Africa rakes in about 70 percent of the income of the developer. The younger generation ranging from the ages of 20 to 25 in the region has its attention drawn to betting shops and online gambling, as those are the most accessible gaming offerings available in the region.

The fact that millennial and people under the age of 30 have their phones around them at all times makes gaming much easier. Only in the state of Lagos, there are as many as 18 licenses already taken by companies such as Naira Bet, Sure Bet247, BetNaija, 1960 Bet, Winners Golden Bet, developing their operation with success.

A main selling point for their offerings is the fact that they have the chance to bet less, therefore considering it a less harmful gaming activity than gambling at a full-fledged flashy casino venue. The situation is similar in other African countries such as Kenya, making it a wide-spread issue.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.