Lobatse┬áHigh Court judge Isaac Lesetedi has ruled that┬áa casino license issued by the Casino Control Board to┬áWorkman Holdings, who were to trade as Masa Casino,┬áwas invalid.
The judge reached this decision while addressing┬á an argument┬á raised by┬á Workman Holdings which said that┬á the applicants in this matter, Sun International Botswana (trading as Gaborone Sun), Piermont Global Botswana┬á(trading as Grand Palm) and Moonlite (trading as Gaborone Hotel Casino) do not┬á have a legal right to be heard.
“The applicants are entitled, under Regulation 5 of the Casino Act, to lodge┬áan objection for issue or renewal of┬ácasino license as they are also competing in casino industry and┬á carry out their casino licenses in Gaborone and are also affected by┬á the way the Board┬áperforms its powers┬á and functions┬á in issuing licenses in Gaborone, specifically where they have an objection,” said Lesetedi.
The judge concurred with the submission by┬áapplicants┬á that┬á publication must only have been made after an application had been┬á lodged with the Board┬á and that, in accordance with Regulations 5┬á of the Casino Act,┬á“the board┬á could not be expected to┬áreact to objections┬á of an application┬áwhich is not pending┬á but is yet to be lodged”.
Concurring, Lesetedi said, “The Board…cannot have powers┬áother than those┬á specifically provided for ┬áin the Act and that when┬áapplications come before the board, it has only two choices: either to issue┬á or refuse.”
He said that once an application┬áhas been refused for whatever reason, the applicant must start afresh as it cannot be argued┬á that┬á where Board is not satisfied┬á with conditions┬á or premises┬á and rejects application it can still be pursued on the same premises ┬áwhich may have been modified to meet┬á specifics of the Board.
On the submission by the respondents that submission of┬á an application┬á need not┬áprecede the publication, Lesetedi said that, in his view, “it┬ámakes good┬áadministrative sense┬á and logic┬á that the submission┬á of the application┬á must precede┬á the application”.
Further to that, it appears to him not sensible┬á for the law to set out all requirements in detail to then give a right of objection upon the publication when the application itself┬á is not pending.
Lesetedi said that a license can only be pending when it has been submitted to┬á relevant authorities┬á and that, in his view, not much should be read into phrases┬á like “intends to apply” as that merely┬árefers to actual process of┬á moving application on the occasion the Board will be considering it.
He also said that he could not┬áadopt interpretation that┬á the phrase “intends to apply” includes┬á to “submit” since such interpretation┬á would lead to absurd consequences.┬á