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Second Try for Online Gambling Legalisation in South Africa
- January 14, 2015 By Oliver Young -
South Africa gets a second chance to legalise online gambling after Geordin Hill-Lewis introduced his Remote Gambling Bill. Hill-Lewis, a Democratic Alliance shadow minister, this time is not offering only a proposal, but also a solution. Therefore, he expressed his confidence that the bill would succeed.
Currently, South Africa allows only remote sports betting, whereas all other remote gambling activities are considered illegal. The bill presented by Hill-Lewis, if passed, would expand the online betting options in the country. However, even he is aware that the Department of Trade and Industry isstill without a clear policy position and that it would probably be against the proposed changes.
In any case, Hill-Lewis has no intentions of giving up and he revealed his plans to reintroduce the bill in February when the Parliament reopens. He also expressed his hopes that the bill will be sent for a debate to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry. His opinion is that a Committee debate would force the government to engage around the argument.
Online Gambling Seen as a Threat to Land Based Casinos
Meanwhile, there is a whole campaign against remote gambling organised by the South African body known as Casino Association of South Africa. Members of the association believe that online gambling is a real threat to land based casino and that it shouldn’t be legalised. They even issued a statement in which they claim that online gambling is growing fast even though it is illegal in the country.
The CEO of CASA, Themba Ngobese, made a comment saying that South Africa would lose R110m ($9.5m) in annual incomes if only 5% of the revenues was diverted online. The overall casino revenue from gambling industry noted a smaller growth of 0.6% after it marked a 10% growth in 2012-2013.
Some more tenuous claims were made in order to justify CASA’s attitude; Ngobese added that there have been a 20% drop in punter visitations at European brick-and-mortar casinos as a result of the legalisation of online casinos in some European countries.
Nevertheless, all of his claims are only allegations that are hard to be confirmed since there are no official numbers on the topics. Even more, many studies showed that remote gambling complements land based casinos instead of stealing their revenues.
Legalisation of iGaming in SA is Highly Unlikely to Happen
Despite Hill-Lewis’ bill and efforts to introduce online gambling to South African players, the legalisation of iGaming in SA is very unlikely to happen. In November, 2014, one of the hottest topics in the online gambling world was the Gambling Outlook for 2014-2018 that excluded legalisation of remote gambling in the country as an option.
The outlook was published by PricewaterhouseCoopers and it stated that this dream will not come true due to the government’s resistance to the idea. The report also pointed out that SA is playing with the idea for ten years now, but it will probably stay that way because the government sector opposes legalisation remote gambling.