South African Online Gambling Bill Nears Parliament DiscussionPublished February 5, 2015 by Amir G
South African MP Geordin Hill-Lewis who is pushing the Remote Gambling Bill for online gambling regulation in the country is optimistic as the bill goes into Parliament discussions this month.
The fight for online gambling regulation in South Africa has reached new heights in the past few weeks, leading some to outright declarations that regulation will soon occur. But the declarations were way too early, as South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Gambling Board (NGB) reaffirmed their opposition to online gambling.
Not All Hope Lost
However, not all hope is lost. The Remote Gambling Bill proposing online gambling regulation is slated for discussion in South Africa's Parliament this month. In an opinion piece published in the South African "Business Report" newspaper, Democratic Alliance Parliament member Geordin Hill-Lewis who gazetted the bill remained hopeful that despite all the pessimism, his bill will pass.
Hill-Lewis who also serves as shadow minister of the DTI stressed the point that when his bill comes to Parliament, its fate will be decided by MPs in the Parliament and not by the hardline stance taken by the DTI. Hill-Lewis asserted that the South African public will have a say in the process: "We will have a thorough public participation process and the DTI is free to make their case before the committee. However, the final decision is up to the committee itself. If the bill passes, then the DTI will have to implement it, whether they like it or not."
No Regulation is Hazardous
Furthermore, Hill-Lewis claims that an outright ban on online gambling with no enforcement is likened to no ban at all – South Africans gamble online illegally and the social consequences of this are far worse than those the DTI and NGB are so concerned about – nowadays there is only one NGB inspector for the entire country. The bill Hill-Lewis brought to the table is based on international best practice and research and it's meant to bring order to the scene.
Regulation will also protect vulnerable people from online gambling which could be hazardous to them, and it will give "meat" to the NGB as it will be able to know who is gambling, who is operating the gambling sites and the lost revenues from illegal gambling will go to the state's coffers.
DTI Position Prone to Change
Hill-Lewis believes that the DTI is not locked in its decision as it said on record that it is open to hear better arguments which will change its mind. Hill-Lewis vowed to take the DTI for their word and urged all interested parties to attend the parliamentary public hearings.
We'll bring you more updates as online gambling regulation reaches critical phases in South Africa.