After years of uncertainty regarding where the online casino industry is headed in South Africa, the government is still yet to announce a firm position on how they plan to move forward with the regulation of the country’s already booming, yet outlawed online casino industry. In 2008 we came close, but like many governmental projects, it got left by the wayside as new projects rose to greater priority.
The truth is, as the South African government continues to turn a blind eye to the booming online casino industry, they are also turning away millions in potential tax revenue, as well as alienating the thousands of users who suffer from gambling addiction. There is potential for a huge secondary supporting industry that could see employment opportunities, along with giving aid to those in need.
Currently, as it stands in South Africa, the only form of legal online gambling is through online sports betting with a licensed bookmaker. Online gambling, specifically in the forms of casino games, poker and bingo are forbidden in the country, however, there are plenty of online gambling outlets that offer these games.
As has been mentioned, this all nearly came to fruition in 2008. After the implementation of the updated National Gambling Act, the SA government was committed to looking into regulating alternative forms of gambling, including greyhound racing, and of course, online gambling. They set up a task force to look into the matter and went as far as signing a new bill into law.
The law however was never promulgated; it was never given a commencement date. This whole exercise was particularly harmful to an already precarious online casino industry, as the South African online gambling sphere began becoming overcrowded with new and eager operators looking to set up shop.
The reason for them heading to South Africa was due to the fact that they heard about the law being so close to coming to fruition, that they thought it would be wise to get a headstart in securing some players.
Little did they know however that as much as thirteen years later, all of this has seemed to be all but forgotten about. In a recent conference, Board Member of the Tourism Grading Council Lee Zama mentioned that if the South African government were to regulate this industry, the process would rely upon four caveats.
Firstly, the government would not need to ensure the safety of players and ensure that relevant support systems and centres were set up in order to aid players afflicted with issues relating to gambling addiction.
Secondly was the matter of policing, which essentially relied upon the need for government and operators to work completely in tandem, to allow regulations to be implemented concretely.
The last two were economic significance, and whether the endeavour would yield the financial reward that the state would expect after undertaking such a project, and equity; ensuring that all who would be involved would benefit equally.
All in all, there are a lot of things that need to be ironed out before we see a regulated online casino industry. The major reason many are crying out for this is because of the effect that it can have both on taxable income, and the players that have become consumed by gambling addiction. Only time will tell whether or not we will see the industry regulated in the future.