LVS in Côte D’Ivoire deal; South Africa online gambling regulation urged

LVS-Cote-D'ivoire-South-AfricaSportsbook software provider LVS has struck a deal to provide its Advanced Betting Platform (ABP) to the Ivory Coast’s exclusive gambling operator, Loterie National de Côte d’Ivoire (LONACI). The sportsbook, which will operate under the Sportcash brand, is scheduled to launch in 80 shops just ahead of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament, expanding to 2,000 terminals over the next 12 months. Initially, football will be the sole product on offer, but future plans include the addition of lottery style games and pari-mutuel horseracing. LVS, which is owned by French gaming giant Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), says it has worked with partners Morpho and LotSys on the ABP’s retail capabilities to provide LONACI clients a single-engine, multi-channel solution whether via online, mobile or retail.

South Africa desperately requires a national cyber-policing strategy and a dedicated team to enforce it, according to University of Johannesburg professor Basie von Solms. As reported by Business Day, Solms reminded the South African parliament’s trade and industry portfolio committee that such a strategy had been circulated in draft form by the government in 2010, but had apparently been allowed to wither on the vine. As such, South Africa’s politicians were “allowing citizens to use the internet more and more but are not protecting them.”

Wednesday’s hearing was held to consider proposed amendments to the country’s National Gambling Act, particularly as it deals with online gambling. Solms advised the government not to take the ineffectual prohibition route by blocking access to gambling sites, suggesting regulation of such sites under “very strict conditions” would better ensure access control plus the confidentiality and security of player info.

Tom Tuxworth, Betfair’s public affairs officer for South Africa and the Netherlands, was quick to back Solms’ call for regulation and licensing of operators, but Tuxworth also stressed his company’s desire (a) to offer a wide variety of products, and (b) to be taxed on gross profit, rather than turnover. “Online-specific regulation is required to protect customers and to enable effective taxation. Onerous regulation, limited product offerings and high taxes force customers to the offshore and unregulated markets, while realistic regulation limits losses to offshore operators and protects players.”