No Casinos Allowed in Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap means “above the Cape” in Afrikaans. It is located in Cape Town. It was previously called the Malay Quarter, a former township. Residents of the area are mostly Muslim, and they took up arms this week in response to news that there was a casino applying to open within the community.

This protest was triggered by notice within the provincial gazette that online casino South Africa – ClevaBets had submitted an application for a bookmaker’s license. They listed that their business was located in Jordaan Street, which is the oldest residential part of the community that survives. The residents so far have resisted gentrification and infiltration, which they see as disruptive to this region’s legacy.

Rejections of the casino’s opening have been shown in different forms, and more than 5000 people have signed the petition as of today. A couple of reasons behind these objections include the fact that the casino would neighbor many religious establishments. It would also be close to secular and religious educational facilities and could lead to traffic and parking issues in this area.

Bo-Kaap’s Rich Heritage

Bo-Kaap is popular for its unique urban landscape and architecture. It has beautiful and vibrant cultures that the residents strongly identify with. The proposed location is within 100m of two public schools and natural heritage sites like Vista High School and St. Paul’s Primary School. This is the same area that had housed a roving casino in the 90s. Residents also protested then, and it was closed down.

Before the Group Areas Act, Muslims mostly lived within urban areas such as City Bowl, District Six, Strand, Woodstock, and Simon’s Town. Even though these areas had high numbers of Muslims, they were not exclusive to them. Instead, Muslims and non-muslims lived together with ease. As time went by, given that their religious affiliation is a key part of their identity Muslims formed stronger bonds with each other. They did this through social networks, customs, and establishments like sports teams and social clubs.

The Group Areas Act radically divided the Muslim community into groups based on skin color. They were scattered around Cape Flats in housing schemes that sought to categorize people according to race and with the colored population – economic class. This resulted in the majority of Muslims having to live in working-class colored townships. The more privileged ones could buy homes in middle-class suburbs like in Belgravia and Athlone.

During this shift, Bo-Kaap was not affected and remained a Muslim-only enclave. With the end of the apartheid-era racial segregation, the Muslim population remained less cohesive than they used to be. Even with their heterogeneity as a group, there are still unique experiences that make them distinctive.
Communities such as Bo-Kaap form because of shared perspectives and mores. People learn a lot about their values from their environment. When people with similar values meet, they realize that working together is a way to achieve personal goals. Islam doubles as a religion and as a way of life that forges a unique and encompassing bond among Muslims worldwide. They often say that there is an Islamic way to do everything from eating to business dealings.

Islam and Gambling

In Islam, gambling (maisir) is forbidden (haram). Maisir is prohibited by Sharia (Islamic law). This is based because the agreement between participants is rooted in immoral inducement brought about by completely wishful hopes in the minds of participants that they would gain with pure luck with no thought of the possibility of losses. Islam looks down on the acquisition of wealth with ease and without paying equivalently for it. The Quran sees games of chance as a grave sin and abominations of Satan’s handiwork.

The people have said that they intend to keep Bo-Kaap authentic. They love their rich Islamic heritage and want to preserve it. However, residents like Adeela Jabaar said that he agrees that times are changing, but the area’s rich history will be negatively impacted by a casino operating there. He said that it just goes against what Bo-Kaap stands for.

ClevaBet Released a Statement

Head of legal affairs at ClevaBets, Morne Pieterse explained to News24 that what they want to do is establish an online bookmaking website. He said that gambling legislation states that to apply to gamble, via the internet or not, you must apply for physical premises attached to the online license. He reassured interviewers that there would be no shop or physical casino erected.

Morne Pieterse at first said that most that could happen would be an opening of a small office at the premises for the website’s administrative site. But after saying this, he changed his statement. He decided on establishing the office at a different location, so as not to risk offending the community. He felt that it was the best course of action given his respect for others’ religious beliefs.