The fact the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) committee on Trade and International Relations got together recently to discuss online gambling legalization proposals published in June by the Gambling Review Commission, may sound encouraging to anyone looking forward to online casinos in South Africa.
If we take into consideration, however, that the report under discussion was published two years ago in June, the picture becomes less rosy.
At that time the Gambling Review Commission suggested amending South African gambling laws “as a matter of urgency” to make online gambling legal. Clearly, some words carry a different meaning in politics than they do in everyday-speak.
Although calls for regulation and legalization of internet casino gambling have been heard for years, the only type of online gambling that is currently legal is to bet on sports in South Africa.
Nevertheless, the NCOP committee meeting is an encouraging sign, pointing to the possibility of some action. Sometime. In the future.
It’s not that the government has no desire to increase budget revenues. After all, analysts estimate that online gambling could contribute as much as ZAR 120 million (approximately USD 11.6 million) – equaling 7% of the current gambling industry tax revenues – to the nation’s funds.
It’s just a sluggish process. If the report is eventually approved (chances are it will be, in a few months), the Department of Trade and Industry must develop its position based on various inputs, of which the NCOP’s is only one. Only then could legislative action follow.
Consequently, optimists expect legalized online slots and the like to launch by 2016. As industry expert Nicholas Hall from Michalsons Attorneys put it: “The wheels of Parliament turn very slowly… You just know it’s going to take time.”