Revised Online Gambling Bill Introduced in SA

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South African lawmaker, Geordin Hill-Lewis introduced a revised version of an online gambling bill to Parliament last week which has the potential of giving the green light to internet gaming. The bill is similar to one presented early last year, which aimed to repeal the controversial 2008 National Gambling Act. The main objective of the newly revived online gaming bill is to give South Africans the opportunity to play at regulated sites.

The Earlier Law, introduced at the beginning of 2014, was set to examine remote gambling in the country, however, due to the scandal that rocked the National Gambling Board in September last year, the bill was suspended by the ministry.

It has now been learned that Geordin Hill Lewis will seek a revival of the bill next month, with the hope that it will eventually lead to regulated online gambling in the country.

“At the very least,” said Hill Lewis, “this will force government to engage properly around this argument. Up until now, the engagement has been superficial and online gambling was not considered a priority, and this is a rather complex issue.”

He said that the Democratic Alliance party, of which he is a member, is offering the government a possible solution to the complex online gambling issue, and he was confident that the bill would succeed.

Naturally, opposition to Hill Lewis’ proposal has already been noted, especially the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA). In a statement, recently the group said that it would do all it could to thwart the spread of online gambling. Chief Executive, Themba Ngobese said that CASA has been tracking the incidence of “illegal and unregulated” online gambling in the industry and was “concerned at the growth in usage and operations which are targeting unsuspecting South African players.”

Ngobese said that while playing online seemed like “harmless fun”, players remain “unprotected”

CASA plans to begin a nationwide media campaign to highlight what it perceives to be the “dangers” of online gambling.

It went on to warn that anyone caught running an illegal online gambling operation would automatically be prohibited from acquiring a license if and when online gambling became a reality in South Africa’s gambling market in the future.

Ngobese went on to say that he wasn’t opposed to the idea of online gambling – he simply did not support “illegal” online gambling.

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