Online Gambling To Be Legalized In South Africa
Wednesday, 21st January 2015
Online gambling or remote gambling is finally set to be legalised in South Africa. Spearheaded by trade minister Geordin Hill-Lewis, The Remote Gaming Bill looks like it will be passed by Parliament over the next few months. To date, South Africans have only been allowed to gamble in brick and mortar establishments. Their other option has been online sports betting; the only form of online betting currently legal in South Africa. In 2004, under the terms of the National Gambling Act, all interactive online games like Poker, bingo and casinos were outlawed. Subsequently, the local industry floundered and struggled to grow while foreign online gambling jurisdictions soared.
While there are a few establishments which offer online gambling to South Africans, they do so at great risk. South African customers constantly fear that these sites may be shut down, and that they’ll lose their funds along with the sunken ship. Customers are also faced with the reality that certain banks do not process deposits to these sites. It’s surprising to know then, that there are estimates which suggest that tens of thousands of South Africans possess active gambling accounts, and that the RealTime Gaming network attracts the majority of them.
South Africa’s gambling market is definitely not a meagre one; the sector generated almost R2 billion in taxes on R16.5 billion revenue in 2014, according to PwC. What’s interesting is that the current law only allows for the licensing of 40 casinos within South Africa, and there are already 37 in operation. Understandably then, the market showed only 0.6% growth in 2014, which is probably the main reason why industry lobbyists and legislators are trying to find new ways of increasing tax revenue from gambling. The report also goes on to suggest that the creation of future growth is dependent on whether operators invest in current properties and expand their facilities.
The responsibility for licensing new online casinos will be split between states and the National Gaming Board, and governed by the Remote Gaming Bill. The NGB will play a bigger role in the system, and individual provinces will now input their “advice”.
This means that physical casinos are finally able to make their long-awaited and lucrative entrance into the online sector. The long wait comes with its own set of benefits though; these brick and mortar casinos are well-established, have loyal customer bases and have built up trust over time – these are competitive advantages that can’t be beat in a developing market.