South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has suspended every member of the South Africa’s National Gambling Board pending the results of a “forensic investigation” being conducted by the Trade and Industry Department (DTI)..
The DTI has yet to reveal the reasons behind the suspensions, opting only to disclose that it was a temporary move.
“The forensic investigation will mainly cover the assets of the National Gambling Board and the minister has also appointed two administrators to oversee the day to day [affairs] of the National Gambling Board,” DTI Spokesman Sidwell Medupe said in a statement.
The suspensions were handed down earlier this month but it wasn’t until last week when gaming operators in South Africa were notified of the DTI’s actions. It also came at a time when South Africa is in the middle of gambling reforms that could dramatically change the landscape of online gambling in the country.
One of the more prominent aspects of the Remote Gambling Bill would be the creation of a regulatory model that would come without a national monopoly and licensing procedures overseen by the national and provincial governments.
Companies with existing gambling licenses are expected to re-apply for a remote gambling license if they are planning to continue operating in the online space. Operators are also required to apply on a provincial basis with each Provincial Licensing Authority in charge of processing applications for their own province.
Another prominent aspect of the bill is the extensive protection it gives to players. For one, credit gambling is prohibited under the bill and player exclusion regulations are expected to be stringent as well.
The bill will also place no limits at the number of available licenses, although harsh penalties could be given to those who participate in online gambling without any licenses. If anybody’s convicted of running illegal online gambling sites, they could face a prison sentence of 10 years with the possibility of up to 20 years for subsequent convictions.
As it stands, the bill is currently in the country’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry where it’s expected to progress ahead of a possible launch date in the first quarter of 2015.