The government of South Africa has been all talk and no action lately when it comes to legalizing online gambling. The effect of their delays in implementing licensing and regulation procedures for internet gambling has provided fertile ground in which foreign gambling operators have planted their seeds.
Earlier this week in the city of Durban, public hearings before the Gambling Review Commission addressed this problem. Other issues discussed were concerns with the effects legalizing internet gambling in South Africa might have on money laundering, under-age gambling, and problem gambling. The Commission has been hosting hearings like this across the country, trying to gauge the socio-economic impact that legal internet gambling might have.
The core issue here is a piece of legislation from 2008 called the Interactive Gambling Act, which has yet to be implemented. The act is still waiting for approval by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, who feels the proposed implementation is not yet where it needs to be.
“The industry cries out for regulation,” says Wayne Lurie, an attorney who helped draft a report on Online gambling in South Africa back in 2004. “This needs to be addressed urgently. It’s embarrassing to the legislature.”
In the meantime, internet gambling groups based in other countries are happy to service players in South Africa. They operate free from local taxation, and since they are headquartered far outside the jurisdiction of local lawmakers, they operate as they wish.
As with many countries across the globe, South Africa feels that the best way to combat this foreign insurgence is to offer local alternatives. Online gambling sites operated out of South Africa would be manageable, and their services could be overseen by local regulatory agencies. While one concern is obviously tax revenue, another is the safety of players. Until the Interactive Gambling Act solidifies, online gambling in South Africa remains beyond the government’s control.