South Africa Refuses to Expand Online Gambling Market

Mike P. - June 8, 2016

South Africa’s National Assembly has rejected a bill to expand the country’s online gambling market beyond sports betting.

In South Africa, Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Geordin Hill-Lewis was rebuffed in its efforts to open up the country’s online gambling market last week. Speaking to the National Assembly, Hill-Lewis had attempted to convince politicians that South Africa could unlock economic benefits if online casino and poker sites were regulated.

National Assembly Rejects Bill

At the start of May, Hill-Lewis had already encountered frustration when South Africa’s Trade and Industry Committee released a report designed to shut down the politician’s Remote Gambling Bill. Last week, the National Assembly was speaking to determine whether or not the committee’s verdict and findings should be accepted.

During the discussion, Freedom Party MP Jan Esterhuizen leant his support to the bill. Setting aside the economic benefits that were already highlighted, Esterhuizen stated that thousands of online gambling sites were still operating in South Africa, and this despite threats being made to hand out punishments to both operators and gamblers.

From a legal standpoint, any individual or operator being prosecuted by the government can be forced to pay fines worth up to R10 million, which equates to $6.3 million. Those who are prosecuted also face the prospect of serving up to 10 years in prison if they are found guilty.

The Current Marketplace

Currently, South Africa is a country where sports betting is the only legal form of online gambling. For a number of years now, Hill-Lewis has tried and failed to convince his fellow politicians that the introduction of new online gambling verticals would be for the good of the nation.

Going back to January 2015, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) clearly stated it had no intention to open up online gambling. Nevertheless, Hill-Lewis did have the freedom to resurrect his bill a year later and even trigger the conducting of a report that had to be approved by the National Assembly.

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