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South Africa may soon legalise online gambling, says Trade and Industry minister

TAGs: gambling commission, Legal, Supreme Court of Appeal, Trade and Industry minister

Minister Rob Davies South AfricaTrade and Industry minister, Rob Davies, has hinted that online gambling in South Africa may soon be legalised.

The news comes in a report by Moneyweb, when there is soon to be hearings on the findings of a gambling commission, which is currently taking place before the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry in Parliament.

It is thought that the changes may include making gaming machines accessible to more people, despite the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling only last month that online gambling in South Africa will remain illegal.

Speaking on Monday at a gathering in Cape Town of the International Association of Gaming Regulators – which is having its annual conference there at the moment – he quoted findings of a commission of inquiry currently before parliament. He hinted at one end that changes were needed to the area of online gambling, and threatening anybody who tried it prematurely.

Davies also told the conference that the commission felt that while gambling policy and regulation had been largely successful, there was a need to strengthen aspects of it.

Quoting from the commission’s findings, he said some of the areas that needed “strengthening” was that of policy “particularly with respect to the management of potential proliferation, to review some of the regulatory structures and coordination mechanisms and possibly to enhance some of the harm mitigating measures”.

He continued: “Under certain, very specific circumstances, the commission recommended that a limited number of new forms of gambling could be accommodated.

“In summary, the commission argued that while there was no reason to depart from the current paradigm of gaming regulation, we did need to pay attention to specific aspects and new challenges. The latter includes, critically, the question of online gambling. This is not yet legal in South Africa, and we will act against any found to be ‘jumping the gun’, who should also not assume that they will be the beneficiaries if we do eventually decide to licence such activities.

“Since relaxing a virtual ban on gambling by the National Party Government, and with new and more relaxed legislation as well as a framework of regulation, gambling has become a lucrative end of the economy.”

He continued to state how the gambling industry has a great economic impact, in terms of revenue and employment:

“Gross gaming revenue doubled between 2001 and 2009 and stood at R15.921bn (over $2bn) in that year. In the same year, the industry generated R1.5 billion in tax revenue for provincial governments and accounts for substantial employment totalling 56958 direct jobs.

“The casino industry alone accounts for 51 317 jobs, 85% of gross gaming revenue and 80% of the tax revenue contributed by gaming. Casinos have made significant contributions to infrastructure development in [the] leisure sector with a cumulative capital expenditure of R18.8bn as at March 2009.”

So everything Davies says does point to the prospect of legal gambling in the Rainbow Nation. However, the government still insists that they remain concerned with the socio-economic effects of doing so. Even though Davies’ hints are pretty strong, we can’t be too sure until the almighty SA government have nodded their powerful heads. What do you think will happen?

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