Throughout the year, as reported on almost every South African casino website, gambling machines have been destroyed countrywide by officials who state that they are not legal. From electronic bingo machines being removed in KwaZulu-Natal to senior citizens’ bingo games being shut down, the country’s government has shown time and again that it simply will not stand for any illegal gaming in the country. But this has not slowed down gambling activity at all. In fact, it would seem that the removal of gambling facilities has just spurred more and more people, especially those who represent the section of the population with lower incomes, to make a move to South African online gambling.
The latest set of removals in Klerksdorp a few days ago saw the North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, take command of a programme geared to destroy the machines spread throughout the city that are classified as illegal. According to sources, these machines have taken a bite out of the income of legalised casinos and general gambling faculties that have sought permission to operate.
According to a representative from the office of the Premier, illegal gambling machines have a harmful effect of the growth of the province economically, since there is no tax paid for the operation of these. The revenue that these operations collect yearly has been estimated at about half a million rand, and this is completely un-taxed and illegal. The operation saw the Hawks, the MEC for Finance and representatives of the North West Gambling Board lead the charge to have these illegal machines removed.
The provincial government has made clear its plans to conduct a social programme to educate those in the province on the effects of gambling, but will it all be for naught? It would see that with the availability of online gaming on mobile platforms, and the rapid rise in low cost smartphones, many citizens are simply taking their business to online casinos accepting rand (ZAR). Now, it seems the government may have a new problem on its hands, seeing that this specific portion of the population is not well versed in online gaming. As such, government may see a lot of people poorly affected by online gaming due to a lack of understanding how it works.
Those who do visit South African online gambling establishments may not even know how to choose the licensed from the unlicensed ones, which would have an even larger effect on the collection of revenue from these facilities in the long run, nationwide.
It would seem that what is needed here is an education programme that allows citizens to make informed choices about playing either offline or online, and ensures they understand the economic impact of playing at unlicensed gambling facilities not just on the province or the country, but on their own communities too.