South Africa’s online gaming market could be facing a devastating blow as the country’s Department of Trade and Industry is looking to ban online gambling. With a constantly fluctuating market, countries that regulate Internet gaming often adjust the policies surrounding it.
Whether a new restriction is imposed to help increase tax revenue or to better protect citizens’ well-being, the government is usually split on how to handle and regulate the complex market.
For the South African government, all forms of online gambling could fall under this proposed ban, including other forms of gambling and betting.
Restricting the Market
This proposal is currently being discussed at the National Gambling Policy Council. The Council consists of high-ranking officials who represent the national and provincial governments of South Africa.
In addition to the online gambling ban, the Department of Trade and Industry is looking to restrict how many electronic bingo machines are allowed in the country. The National Gambling Policy Council has yet to finalize the proposition’s draft. Once completed, the draft will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval, where it will also be released to the public for comment.
Reasons for the Ban
Zodwa Ntuli, the department’s deputy director general and MacDonald Netshitenzhe, the chief director, explained the reasoning behind the proposal to members of Parliament. According to a report from bdlive.co.za the online gambling ban is “based on the view that the government had the capability to enforce regulations of the industry.”
There was also a desire to limit gambling in the forms that currently exist in South Africa.
Netshitenzhe explained that there was no way to quantify how online gambling can benefit the creation of jobs. He also made a point to mention that other countries across the world had placed bans on online gambling. Ntuli said that part of the department’s desire to impose a ban is because South Africa has a higher level of problem gamblers and players deeply in debt in comparison to other countries.
Part of the proposal is to introduce tighter control over South Africa’s ease of access when it comes to gambling, such as eliminating the ability to gamble in shopping malls. Included in the proposal is a method of regulating betting on horse races. To enact most of these plans, the gambling industry would have to be greatly adjusted, especially in how licenses are issued to operators.
Argument for Regulation
South Africa’s Democratic Alliance spoke out against a complete ban of online gambling, instead identifying regulation as a better option.
“That is a very, very bad decision,” Democratic Alliance spokesman on Trade and Industry Geordin Hill-Lewis said. “I fiercely disagree with that view. It is completely shortsighted to say that it is better for South Africans not to be allowed to gamble online when there is patently significant demand in the country to do that. It is for government to facilitate that in the safest way possible.”
Hill-Lewis argues that an online gambling ban would require a huge amount of resources for South Africa to ensure that the policies are enforced. However, Ntuli admitted that the objectives of national and provincial governments were conflicting. South African provinces allow the operation of electronic bingo machines despite the lack of a national policy for them. Because of this, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies halted the issuing of any future licenses. No date was given on when the proposal will be finalized and submitted for approval.