While the Trade and Industry Ministry will apparently be left waiting for a key final report on Internet gaming, the Johannesburg High Court has banned online gambling in South Africa, effective immediately.
The ruling sweeps across the entire South African industry in making it illegal to provide Internet casinos in South Africa, holding South African Internet service providers (ISPs) responsible for blocking gambling online, targeting financial institutions which process payments to and from casinos, banning mass media from advertising Internet gambling, and threatening South Africans citizens who play online with fines and jail time.
Those found guilty of breaking the new South African gambling laws could face a fine of ZAR 10 million rand (approximately $1.36 million) and/or ten years in prison.
Lucky Lukhwareni, head of Gauteng Gambling Board legal services, told a hardline stance for South African media as well, saying, “we approached the media to alert them of the judgment which makes online casino operations illegal, and if they continue we will have them arrested and fight for conviction.”
Players in South Africa should be advised on the risks, but the reaction to the announcement with regard to possible enforcement is highly skeptical. Typical of the comments online was a reader at South African financial website Fin24, who said, “Anotehr ruling on things they can’t regulate. Lovely.”
Estimates place the value of the South African online gambling industry is estimated to be worth between 400 million and 1 billion rand.