The South African online gambling regulation is undergoing changes as we speak. The so-called ”Remote Gambling Bill” initiated by the Democratic Alliance aims to end the blanket ban on online casinos, bringing this segment of the market out of the grey zone and into the light. The bill would change the outdated laws introduced in 2008, and put online casinos where they belong: under the umbrella of the local gambling authority.
How will this new law, if passed, change online gambling in South Africa? And what is the role of gambling regulators, anyway?
Ending a prohibition
Prohibitions don’t work. This has been proven by the big alcohol ban in the US that made the locals’ lives miserable in the 1920s, and later by the PASPA, a bill that put a blanket ban on sports betting in the United States. Both times, the grey market flourished, generating massive revenues and leaving the government’s pockets empty in the process.
Online casino gambling is banned in South Africa right now. But if you think this means that South Africans are not playing at online casinos, you’re wrong. There are plenty of offshore casino operators that gladly accept the money of South African players, some of them even in rands. But the state sees no tax revenue from this business. This, as Playcasino’s Rudie Venter pointed out, causes the economy to bleed money offshore, without any benefits felt at home.
Once regulations are established and licenses are issued, online casino operators, will come out into the open. They will pay their licensing fees and taxes, and they will comply with any and all responsible gambling and customer protection regulations imposed on them.
What is the role of regulatory bodies?
As their name suggests, their role is to regulate various activities in their jurisdiction. For example, the Western Cape Gambling and Betting Board is responsible for gambling and betting activities in the Province of the Western Cape. It verifies those applying for licenses, it makes sure they comply with any laws and regulations, they issue the licenses and they pocket the fees. Well, not exactly – the fees go through them to the state budget.
It is also responsible for keeping up with any and all technological developments in the industry and enforcing the law if and when illegal gambling activities are discovered.
Gambling regulators like the WCGRB are constantly keeping a finger on the industry’s pulse, making sure it functions in a stable and credible environment, both for the sake of the operators and the players.
How will South African gambling change?
The new gambling bill’s purpose is to establish a regulatory framework for remote gambling. While it’s not specified, it would likely encompass online casino operations, too. It mentions the licensing and control of remote gambling activities, application processes for different categories of remote gambling licenses, and the need for compliance with standards for remote gambling websites and equipment. Overall, the passage of the Remote Gambling Bill would bring the South African online gambling industry out of the legal grey area and into a regulated environment. It would provide players with greater protection, enhance responsible gambling measures, and help retain revenue and job opportunities within the country.
The potential passing of the Remote Gambling Bill in South Africa signifies a crucial turning point in the regulation of online gambling. By putting an end to the blanket ban on online casinos, the bill aims to bring this segment of the market out of the grey zone and into the light of legality. The outdated laws from 2008 will be replaced, placing online casinos where they belong: under the umbrella of local gambling authorities. The regulatory framework established by the bill would provide players with enhanced protection, promote responsible gambling measures, and retain revenue and job opportunities within the country. The legalisation of online casinos, alongside effective regulation, would bring this segment of the industry into a regulated and accountable space, benefiting all stakeholders involved.