The Gauteng Gambling Board recently changed South African gambling laws and declared online gambling illegal. The regulator is now under fire from local internet service providers (ISPs) for announcing that any companies that aid internet gambling in South Africa could face fines up to R10 million (1 million Euro).
According to the High Court, any entity that “facilitates the provision of online gambling” could be fined – this includes ISPs. Now, South African ISPs are insisting that it is not their job to police the internet. Perhaps more significantly, they also argue that such a task would require millions to be spent on a new infrastructure. An appeal of the court ruling is imminent, but not yet scheduled.
The task of monitoring internet traffic is monumental, and it is a problem that faces any governing body that insists on controlling how their citizens use the internet. This fact may be moot, however, because South African laws regard ISPs as content carriers, not content providers, meaning they cannot be held responsible for data they transmit.
Australia already has notoriously overpriced internet in terms of global averages, and ISPs warn that if they are forced into monitoring all traffic for signs of users accessing online gambling sites in South Africa, then it will be the customers who will have to front the costs.
The heart of the issue is whether or not it is correct to say that ISPs “facilitate” access to online gambling sites in South Africa. There is no legal framework to set a president here, so the issue is now the center of debate.
In other local news, the South African government recently decided to restrict TV adverts of gambling services to late-night slots, a move which has sports teams that are sponsored by internet sports betting companies very concerned.