South Africa presses forward with online gambling clampdown


south-africa-gambling-act-amendmentsSouth Africa is pressing forward with its plans to clamp down even harder on unauthorized internationally licensed online gambling operators.

In 2016, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a draft of its new National Gambling Policy document, detailing the government’s intention to ensure that “no new forms of gambling” would be permitted in the Africa continent’s largest gambling market.

Last Friday, DTI issued a notice of intention to introduce the National Gambling Amendment Act 2018 into parliament during the legislature’s second term of 2018. The bill’s text, which can be read in full here, further restricts South African gamblers’ ability to access online gambling products not available to them via locally licensed operators, who are limited to offering sports betting only.

Among the new restrictions are explicit warnings to financial institutions that they “must not process payment transactions for any gambling activities that are not licensed” under the country’s existing gambling rules.

As previously stated, individual South African bettors who dare to wager with unauthorized international sites will have their winnings forfeited to the National Gambling Regulator (NGR), the new overseer of South African gambling following a proposed ‘repositioning’ of the National Gambling Board.

The NGR will keep a “register of unlawful gambling operators,” and anyone tagged with this scarlet letter will be prohibited from seeking a South African license for five years following the day of their listing.

The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) will be given authority over regulation of all lotteries and sports pools and will “prescribe a maximum limit of licenses” for betting on lottery results and sports pools.

The government also plans to ban both dog racing and wagering on dog races, while allowing the horse racing industry to create a “self-regulating body” whose activities will be overseen by the NGR. Race betting operators will be required to kick back a “reasonsble amount” of their race wagering revenue to “the development of the horse racing industry and usage of products belonging to totalizator operators.”

The amendments also plan to regulate electronic bingo, require gambling venues located in public spaces (shopping malls, arcades, etc.) to ensure that their entrances are “separate” and “hidden,” and ban the installation of automatic teller machines in or around gambling venues.

Operators have also been tasked with achieving “broad-based black economic empowerment targets in the gambling industry,” while provincial licensing bodies must impose these empowerment targets in their licensing conditions, meaning licenses can be suspended or withdrawn if these targets aren’t met.

The last few years have seen stalwart efforts by some South African legislators to attempt to shift the government away from its prohibitionist online stance, but these efforts have failed to gain much traction and the government appears intent on doubling down on its head-in-the-sand approach. Good luck with that.