A Carnival City punter bested the wheel of fortune and 77 other finalists to claim the R1.5 million grand prize in the grand finale of Sun International’s Black Pearl nationwide roulette showpiece at Durban’s Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom on Saturday, 18 November 2023.
Image: Sibaya General Manager, Virath Gobrie, pictured with the casino’s promoters holding the R1.5-million cheque before the winner was crowned
Thousands of members of the Sun Most Valued Guests (MVG) loyalty programme had clashed over three months of fiercely contested regional heats at Sun International casinos across the country to earn their spot at the sumptuous finale. And their efforts appeared to be well worth it.
In one of the most dramatic conclusions in the gaming giant’s tournament history, the winner left it until the last of 18 spins to complete a stunning come-from-behind victory, edging his Boardwalk-based rival to the crown and leaving dumbstruck spectators dancing in the aisles at the Imbizo conference centre.
The win caps an incredible year for Carnival City gaming, as bettors from the hotel and casino in eastern Gauteng now hold all three of Sun International’s nationwide tournament titles – baccarat-focused Black Opal, Slots Royale, and Black Pearl.
The highest rung of roulette
Black Pearl represents the pinnacle of wheel of fortune gaming. It is the biggest roulette tournament in the country with R2.5 million in total prize money on offer, and an additional R50 000 put up as a special bonus for double spins and R500 000 for triple spins, courtesy of SunBet.
In the preliminary action, MC Jared Dukkhi shepherded the finalists on to greater heights as the heats burned hotter than Durban’s sub-tropical sun and spectators crowded the tables to get a glimpse of the fateful spins. On Friday, finalists had enjoyed opening soiree at the legendary Krakatoa nightclub to relax while gaining insight into table positions and tournament rules.
The Zulu-themed Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom, set among the rolling green hills of KwaZulu-Natal and above the tides of the welcoming Indian Ocean, is a hub for gaming and leisure-lovers in the province. Along with one of the busiest casinos in the country renowned for massive payouts, Sibaya boasts a wealth of dining opportunities, a theatre and convention centre, and those trademark sea views.
“Black Pearl has been a fantastic success. Sibaya is one of the bigger casinos in the Sun International stable and to have VIP customers come to us from all over the country is an absolute privilege. It is a chance for us to showcase this incredible property, which we have recently upgraded. Hosting the final takes our VIP experience to another level,” said Sibaya General Manager, Virath Gobrie.
Red, black, odds or evens, roulette remains the dominant force in South African casinos, thanks to the table game’s simplicity, dynamism, and attraction to strategists and the superstitious alike.
As a testament to roulette’s accessibility, a SunBet patron and Diamond MVG member who had never played roulette before managed to earn a spot in the Black Pearl final and eventually finished a creditable third position, clinching the R250 000 prize. Her surefire strategy? Choosing all her favourite numbers linked to birthdays and anniversaries. She’s been visiting Sibaya since it opened doors and began playing with SunBet, Sun International’s online betting platform, a year ago, but the long-time slot machine fan had only recently been tempted over to the roulette table.
“You can win a lot of money very quickly playing roulette and this appeals to the players. It’s a simple game with high payouts. At Sibaya, we have a strong tables market and roulette is the most popular game. There’s something mesmerising about watching the wheel turn!” said Black Pearl Tournament Director Robin Kennedy, adding that Sibaya had “pulled out all the stops” to make sure guests were spoiled thoroughly over the weekend.
Sun International Loyalty and Customer Insight Manager Liza Adrianzen said the third edition of the Black Pearl tournament since 2020 had been tweaked to provide even more gaming thrills.
“We repositioned the business as the ‘home of tournaments’ in 2020 to celebrate customers and bringing in the extravagance with the rebirth of trademarked events like Black Pearl. It’s been a massive success for us, and has led to improvements in customer experience and adoption, tables play and VIP experience. The hype and energy these tournaments bring to our customers and staff has been phenomenal. They reinforce that gaming is fun and luxurious. Our VIPs were truly indulged and loved every moment,” she explained.
Sun International will be adding to its gaming repertoire over the next year, with much more excitement in store for bettors. Black Pearl 2023 will be a hard act to follow, but the company continues to cement its reputation as the home of tournaments.