Is The South African Government Really Turning a Blind Eye to iGaming Expansion?

Published October 23, 2016 by Lee R

Is The South African Government Really Turning a Blind Eye to iGaming Expansion?

The lugubrious regulation model, not Parliamentary opinion, appears to be stifling expansion.

Despite clear indications of increasing demand in the currently permitted sports betting vertical, the South African Authority is keeping the online gambling market closed.

Deaf Ears?

Some members of Parliament are seeking to seize upon the benefits of expanding activity, but at first glance the government seems blinded, or callous. This indifference is visible in the National Assembly´s round rebuffing of the recent efforts of Democratic Alliance MP Geordin Hill-Lewis to convince assembly members to expand regulation to online casino and poker sites and harness the corresponding benefits.

Current Argument in Favor

Hill-Lewis´ argument had included the fact that the government´s existing ban on other verticals and threats of harsh punishments for transgressors had failed to slow or dent the South African citizenry´s patronage of thousands of international online gambling sites.

Final Policy

Nonetheless, the final version of South Africa´s National Gambling Policy for 2016 was recently released with the summary statement that "no new forms of gambling will be allowed at this point."

Regulation Model Issues

According to the new policy report, the popularity of sports betting is insufficient to justify expansion, because "the capacity to regulate online gambling currently is not adequate, but can be streamlined to prevent illegal operations."

In other words, the most adaptation the South African government currently deems capable of implementing is smaller scale efforts to prevent illegal operations within the existing model.

Proposed Policy Adaptations

New heftier penalties proposed by the SA Authority for the new policy year include confiscating all South African player winnings from unauthorised online operators and paying them into an Unlawful Winnings Trust. This would update the current mandate that requires a High Court Order to seize player winnings.

Clunky Model

ClickaBet CEO Craig Venter, one of four South Africa license holders, characterized the sports betting licence application process as difficult and time-consuming.


Clearly, the South African model needs to be significantly revamped in order to meet the demands of the market as well as domestic players. The economic benefits currently appear as distant fruits on the horizon for what appears to be a daunting task ahead in South Africa, no matter how many South African politicians support the idea, and no matter how popular currently permitted activities are with SA players.

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