Dr. Rob Davies, the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, said that after examining a preliminary report on the ongoing affairs and wasteful expenditure charges against the National Gambling Board, he was sad to see that things were “in a sorry state”. The Department of Trade and Industry commissioned the report after irregular expenditure and corrupt behavior patterns surfaced last year. The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry was briefed on the preliminary report, although it has been stated that the report still needs to be finalized before official action can be taken.
The interim report claims that over R3.6 million in irregular expenditure was noted, while R66,000 expenditure was deemed wasteful and fruitless. Among those costs was a R2.2 million contract signed with a law firm, which has since been cancelled, as well as irregularities in building lease costs. Former members of the National Gambling Board, which has since been dismissed, regularly drew large payments into their own accounts without Dr. Davies’ approval.
After commenting on the preliminary report pertaining to the National Gaming Board, Davies then turned his attention to illegal online gambling operators in South Africa and threatened that if they did not cease their operations, they stood a good chance of not having a license issued if and when a licensing regime is introduced in the country under new laws.
“Anyone operating illegally must know they will not get a license for this,” he said. “There are ways to stop you.”
Looking ahead, it is believed that Dr. Davies will propose that the National Gambling Board be restructured as a regulatory gambling body that will oversee all issues related to the industry in South Africa. Opposition leaders are pushing for a total review of the country’s gambling framework and have said that leaving the situation the way it is could leave the public open to corruption. Deputy Spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance for Trade and Industry, Dean Macpherson, requested the Dr. Davies name and shame those members of the National Gambling Board who should be held responsible for issues as they stand. Macpherson said that the South African authorities’ hands were tied when it came to holding those responsible until the final report is released.
Under current laws, Board members are not allowed to issue license to gambling operators, however provincial governments are allowed to do so.