New card game play on as lockdown hits casino revenues

As casino revenues continue to be lashed under heavy lockdown rules a new card game has moved out of the home and into the casino lounge.


In a fitting first, a Durban casino may be the first place in the world to introduce the popular “Call Card” parlour game into the formal gaming environment.

According to the local Durban Indian community the old parlour game, now dubbed “Call Card 52” by Sibaya Casino north of the city, is believed to have first arrived on South African shores ‘via ship’ when the first Indians made the long voyage to settle in South Africa in 1860.

Sibaya Casino launched the game “Call Card 52” last week after it was recently approved by the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming & Betting Board.

“Owing to the fact that this is a new game, we chose to do a soft launch but the results are already very good,” said Sibaya gaming manager, Robin Kennedy, who was responsible for patenting the game on behalf of Sun International.

“The take-up is huge, particularly on weekends and word of it is moving fast throughout the province,” he said.

Kennedy, who has over three decades of experience, across the Sun International group said he had been made aware of the game by several of his clients and saw the opportunity to ‘legalise it’.

“The entire process took eight months. We initially had to patent the name and then lodge the concept with the board. Fortunately, they were very amenable and received our proposal positively.”

KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board CEO, Portia Baloyi congratulated Sibaya on the innovation.

“Approving a new card game doesn’t happen every day. We wish them the best of luck with Call Card 52,” she said.

Sibaya General manager Myan Moodley said that Call Card was particularly popular in the KZN region.

“We believe the game came to South Africa with the Indian settlers in 1860. And since then it has not looked back. The game is flourishing, particularly in townships of KZN. Hence our reason for bringing it onto the floor,” he said.

The game is very simple with participants left to guess when a single numbered card in a pack of 52 arrives.

If the participant bets on “Card Win” and wins, they will be paid even money less a 10% rake or commission. If someone bets on “Card Lose” and they win they get paid even money without having to pay the rake.

A player can earn 11/1 odds if he bets that the chosen card is the first to be drawn out the pack.

The launch of the new card game comes as Sun International published its interim results for the six months ended June 2021.

The company reported a loss of R59 million for the six month period, as it remains under pressure due to the Covid-19 lockdown restriction. Its South African overall income from operations improved  by 52% to R3.7 billion compared to the previous period.

The groups said this was due to the easing of adjusted alert level 3 restrictions on 1 February 2021 and the return to alert level 1 on 28 February 2021. Sun International highlighted the issues affecting its operations as curfew hours, the restriction on serving alcohol and the limited capacity allowed in casinos. Sun International’s staff complement has shrunk from 9340 in 2019 to 7000, largely due the lockdown restrictions.