South Africa Online Gambling State of Affairs: Regulation Still Far Off

Published January 22, 2015 by Amir G

South Africa Online Gambling State of Affairs: Regulation Still Far Off

Despite optimistic reports and headlines, online gambling is still far from being regulated in South Africa in face of strong opposition by the government.

Last week has seen speculations running rampant on the issue of online gambling regulation in South Africa and its future. In this article we will try to address the general unclarity of the situation with the info that is out in the open.

The Remote Gambling Bill

It began when discussion on the Remote Gambling Bill on online gambling regulation was scheduled for February 2015, when South Africa's parliament opens again. Democratic Alliance Parliament member Geordin Hill-Lewis, who also serves as shadow minister of trade and industry and is signed on the bill, expressed his optimism that this time it will go through. Hill-Lewis said he believes that the government will engage the issue properly as its interaction with online gambling so far has been superficial at best; the parliament member believes that his bill gives the government a possible solution.

Hill-Lewis has received the backing of the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA) which issued a message of support. These days, CASA is running a nation-wide campaign highlighting the perils of unlawful online gambling.

Speculations Perhaps Too Optimistic

It seems that this optimism expressed by Hill-Lewis was taken a little too far by some as reports announcing that online gambling is going to be legalized in the country have started popping up. The backlash of these reports has brought South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to issue a joined statement with the National Gambling Board (NGB) which reaffirmed the government's opposition to online gambling and its regulation as proposed by the shadow minister.

"Online gambling, or what others refer to as remote gambling, is not allowed in SA, and the National Gambling Board together with other law enforcement agencies will act on this illegal activity with immediate effect," said the statement, continuing to warn perpetrators of the punishments they face which include hefty fines and jail time.

It was made clear that "Online gambling is not desirable and the DTI has raised its objection to the proposal by the Democratic Alliance to legalise online gambling. There are a number of social ills associated with gambling, especially online gambling which occurs in unregulated and unsupervised locations."

Adoption of Europe Models

Hill-Lewis was not surprised by the government's statement but highlighted how the DTI speaks of "social ills" related to online gambling: "There are also social ills associated with alcohol, but it is legal," he said. Despite the strong opposition, Hill-Lewis said that he hopes to change the minds of the DTI, although his bill will be discussed at the Parliament and is not up for the national government to decide.

Perhaps South African lawmakers could look at the possible adoption of European online gambling regulation models, namely the recent amendments to the UK bill which show that a supervised, regulated online gambling market is not a distant utopia.

We'll keep following the situation in South Africa and bring you relevant developments as they come.

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