The Goldrush Gaming Group

Advancing the gaming industry by providing a world class gaming and entertainment experience

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Formed in 1998 with its primary focus on bingo, the Goldrush Gaming Group has since expanded into Limited Payout Machines (LPMs) and sports betting, operating in venues throughout South Africa and Africa.

A high-performance culture is evident in a team, which knows how to maintain high standards to ensure a competitive advantage. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mergan Naidoo, and the Managing Director of Limited Payout Machines, Sundri Padayachee, provide insight into the culture and business ethics of the GoldRush Gaming Group.

Mergan Naidoo: the vanguard

Mergan Naidoo, the CEO of the Goldrush Group of companies, joined Egoli Gaming in 2009 as a Finance Manager. Naidoo was promoted to CFO in 2011 and led the consolidation of the Group in 2013. He was appointed as the CEO of the Group in 2015 and has since initiated and led the merging and restructuring of multiple companies in the gaming industry. The Group has grown exponentially over the years and, currently, has four divisions—Bingo, LPMs, G-Bets and the Goldrush Foundation.

“Being at the forefront of an evolving gaming company where new developments and expansion are the order of the day has been a humbling experience for me. I think a key element to me being a vanguard is the fact that I have a good mentor, Mr Ray Hipkin, the founder of the Group. I’m a family man and the one thing I truly enjoy is spending quality time with my wife and two daughters. I believe in living a healthy lifestyle and when my schedule allows, I cycle, play squash, action cricket and never compromise on going to the gym,” says Naidoo.

Naidoo says being attentive to the business holistically and achieving the outlined objectives are what fuels his passion as the CEO. “More often than not, companies oscillate on probabilities, however, they side-line what they have and still need to achieve. This strategy gives one the ability not just to present figures and reports but to take those numbers and effect meaningful change in the business,” he says.

Naidoo explains his main approaches to achieving continued success and growth are learning from mistakes and ensuring that they are never repeated, adapting easily to changes and being innovative, and enduring through challenges.

“Getting people to believe in a new division that has not been tried or tested is an example of a challenge I had to endure when we entered into the sports betting business—it was one of the toughest challenges. There were multiple questions about whether we would succeed but we took the risk. The sheer diligence and commitment of the team allowed us to be where we are currently, considering how G-Bets has become one of the fastest growing sports betting divisions within its industry—comprising 40 branches in South Africa, Lesotho and an online division,” says Naidoo.

He cites being listed on the JSE as a future aspiration for the company, as well as the continued growth through the establishment of new branches in new terrain. He is also passionate about the growth of the Goldrush employees through skills development.

“The employees keep the company afloat operationally through their hard work and without them, business success is but a mere aspiration. Our corporate culture is built on the core values of integrity, commitment, accountability, respect and execution. These values have been influential in how I manage the business as well as make corporate decisions,” explains Naidoo.

“I believe in giving more than you take, hence, good corporate citizenship and community partnership are key elements in the Group. Through the Goldrush Foundation, we contribute R3-4 million to various CSI initiatives by identifying projects that will be impactful on the communities we serve. My favourite quote is by John Quincy Adams who said: ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’—and that’s what we constantly strive for,” he adds.

Consolidating the Goldrush Group, establishing G-Bets and successfully integrating the JSE-listed RECM and Calibre Limited as a significant shareholder in the Group is his greatest achievement. His additional accolades include being identified as one of the Top 35 under 35 Chartered Accountants in South Africa and being a nominee for the Exceptional Category of the SA Chapter of the EY Entrepreneur Awards 2017.

Sundri Padayachee: the philanthropist

Well-recognised for her association with various community-based organisations, Padayachee has held positions as the President of the KZN Provincial Eisteddfod Movement and was actively involved in the promotion of arts and culture within the community and religious organisations. She is presently a Trustee for the Greenwood Park Education and Cultural Trust.

“I was born and raised in Durban, however, I moved to Newcastle in 1998 because of my interest in arts and culture, which I’ve always been very active in. In 2006, I relocated to Gauteng and joined Viva Bingo as a Director, which was later consolidated to the Goldrush Group. I’m also very family oriented and enjoy spending time with my son, two daughters and six grandchildren,” she shares.

Padayachee is passionate about giving back and the social initiatives of the Goldrush Gaming Group provide a platform for her dedication to bettering the lives of various communities to materialise into action. “I enjoy planning and executing the various CSI projects through the Goldrush Group Foundation. I find great fulfilment in being part of uplifting the communities we operate in by partnering with reputable NGOs whose mandate is to also improve the lives of the average South African. Our passion for community service transcends our culture, customers and the communities we work and live in.

“The CSI initiatives need to complement the commitments we have made as a licensee and as a socially and economically responsible participant in the South African economy. Our undertaking is to primarily provide financial, technical and other assistance to the communities in which we operate. The group will fund project-based interventions and infrastructure in areas such as entrepreneurship and small business development, cultural development, welfare and poverty alleviation and, particularly, the skills development of the youth.

“We have learnership programmes and on-the-job-training, which are provided to ensure the skills transfer is successfully implemented. Seventy-five per cent of our staff members consist of the youth, whereby 50% are female and we also offer bursaries to any staff member who wishes to complete their tertiary education,” explains Padayachee, who adds that another area close to her heart is the empowerment of women within the corporate environment.

“I believe in empowering women into managerial and directorial positions as it brings more diversity to the corporate boardroom. I’ve trained and mentored four women to become general managers and it’s only the beginning. I look forward to there being more women in the gaming industry as it will be intrinsically fulfilling,” she enthuses.

Principles that have shaped her career include integrity, accountability, persistence, facing any problems head-on, planning realistically, utilizing the available resources and constantly evaluating her objectives and values.

She states her best attributes as a Director is her knowledge of the industry, her ability to manage the pressure from external sources as well as from the day-to-day challenges, such as managing constant strategic structural changes, articulating key issues and providing critical insight when solving issues that may arise in order to find a successful solution.

“My responsibilities include ensuring site operators submit the required documents to the regulators for their site licenses; assisting with the establishing sites to operate LPMs; ensuring efficient training is provided to site operators and their employees; and conducting promotions each quarter to increase site revenues. I have to ensure that the growth of each province is attainable, I assist with site compliance at all sites licensed by the regulator and I monitor and amend internal controls,” Padayachee explains.

She highlights her achievements as being awarded gaming licenses in various provinces, establishing provincial offices by recruiting staff from within the communities the organisation operates in, and mentoring and training staff members in various departments—who were initially administrators—into general and national managers through skills development. 

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