Online Betting In South Africa
In a press release Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Ms Joanmariae Fubbs stated that the original bill – which would have had significant wide-ranging consequences for the gambling industry in South Africa – was reduced to a mere three technical points.
Although gambling on sports and racing is legal in South Africa, many international operators offered services that are illegal within the country. These included electronic betting terminals and online gaming.
Despite the total economic value of all gambling being approximately R18.4 (£1bn), the proposed bill had intended to clamp down on and heavily restrict a wide range of betting practices, such as banning greyhound racing and online gaming – including casinos.
It also promised harsh sentences to those caught, up to and including hefty fines and the confiscation of any winnings. In addition, it would have banned banks from processing transactions from illegal or unlicensed operators.
Instead, the bill that passed has firstly directly transferred regulatory power from the National Gambling Board to the new National Gambling Regulator. Secondly, it changes the structure of the National Gambling Policy Council. Lastly, it expands the National Central Electronic Monitoring System so that they can log all gambling activity within the country.
Regardless of what these changes mean, the news continues to put South Africa in a state of limbo when it comes to online gambling such as casinos. The chairman of the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA), Themba Ngobese, who vehemently opposes online gambling as it reduces tax revenue and causes job-losses within the sector, came out in the summer with an ultimatum: either the law has to be tightened and enforced, or it needs to be legalised and regulated.
Moreover, it’s true; many illegal gambling operations in the country have had a negative effect on the nation as a whole, especially as many are operated by organised crime gangs. But, like with many things, the tide isn’t turning.
If the current government retains its majority in 2019 it seems unavoidable that there will be a significant moment in the future where online casinos may be completely inaccessible to the everyday South African – unless they’re willing to risk more then just money. Meanwhile, the discussion rages on.