Boardwalk Casino and a staff member celebrate 23 years | The Planner

This year is the Boardwalk Casino’s 23rd birthday. While the whole team is celebrating this achievement, for one of them – Siyanda Mtongana – it’s an especially important milestone, marking his 23rd year with the company.

Siyanda joined the Sun International beachfront casino in Gqeberha when he was 27 years old. He recalls the casino’s opening day, which attracted 20 000 people. Adding to the stress of starting a new job, he forgot his belt, which was an essential part of his uniform (for hanging his keys on). Nonetheless, the day was a huge success and he soon found his rhythm.

Siyanda shares, “Boardwalk’s opening was an exciting opportunity for me, as I was doing piece jobs before it opened, such as working as a petrol attendant. It meant job security.”

Over the years, Siyanda’s strong work ethic and dedication have seen him receive several promotions and additional training. He currently holds the position of gaming floor manager.

Many firsts, many memories
He says, “Since the beginning, we have always been given proper training. We were taught Boardwalk’s mission statement and we composed it into a song which we sung at our training graduation. It was drilled into us, and we lived it.”

When he was promoted to slots floor operations supervisor, he received a full year of training. “We spent a night at the Fish River Sun, which, as my first-ever hotel stay, was extremely memorable.”

He also took his first flight on a work trip, flying up to Johannesburg.

Reminiscing about his time at Boardwalk, Siyanda says, “My first long service awards (five years) with Sun International was themed ‘Night of the Stars’. It seemed like we were in Hollywood, with the cameras flashing on us upon entering the Conference Centre – the glitzy decor, the mood and the music really made us feel like stars.

“A British customer once gave me one pound as a tip, which I asked if I could keep as a souvenir, and I still keep it in my wallet today. When it comes to winners, the Millennium Mania machine paid out R2-million, and I remember the excitement of that winner. Several people have also won R1-million on the Dream Machine during my shifts.”

As an ardent sports fan, meeting cricketing greats from the West Indies and Australia on their respective tours when they visited Boardwalk are some of his highlights – and of course, many Springboks, too, over the years.

“I wouldn’t trade the memories and relationships I’ve built over the years for anything.”

“In 2015, I decided to make use of Sun International’s financial assistance to further my studies and started studying towards a degree in law at Unisa. It was challenging to balance work with shifts that sometimes start at midnight and would run until 8am, but I completed it in 2020,” he shares.

He has completed several modules of a post graduate diploma in labour relations management and is currently taking a break from studying.

“Boardwalk is a close family who support each other – this is one of the things that have kept me going. I wouldn’t trade the memories and relationships I’ve built over the years for anything,” he adds.