Slow Progress in South African Online Gambling Regulation

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Analysts have predicted that the South African government will continue to stall over a decision to regulate online gambling in the country. The Gambling Industry Leader for PriceWaterhouseCooper, Nikki Forster, said that continued opposition to the idea by some factors of the government, will more than likely see the government continue its hesitation. Concerns over the legalization and regulation of online gambling include gambling addiction.

According to Forster, the government has been moving towards introducing sound online gambling regulations for over a decade, however concerns about problem gambling have caused the issue to stumble when the support of political parties is needed to press the issue forward. In addition, it is feared that online gambling will not create jobs, as promised by gambling operators.

“There is hesitation from government,” said Forster with the publication of PriceWaterhouseCooper’s new report entitled ‘African Gambling Outlook: 2014 – 2018’.

“In the last month, trade and industry has said it doesn’t support online gambling and it doesn’t believe it creates jobs and it could add to gambling addiction problems. Based on these messages, I don’t see anything happening for quite a period of time.”

Other predictions made by PWC include the fact that the South African gambling market is set to grow by a compound annual rate of 3.9% – from what is worth at present its current R21.8 billion, to R29.5 billion by 2018.

Part of this significantly slow growth is the fact that the government has not agreed to factor online gambling into the equation. Forster said that it went counter to trends in most parts of the world that the government continues to refuse to license online gambling operators.

“Many countries are relaxing their restrictions, allowing online gambling to take place,” she said. “Online gambling in the UK is the big market – it’s significantly bigger than casinos.”

Foster pointed out that even in the United States, where opposition to online gambling has been consistent over many years, there has been some form of relaxing of restrictions.

“Certain states are now allowing poker to be played online,” she said. “There is an increase in online gambling in the United States and a relaxation of some of the prohibitions.”

PWC believes that South Africa is currently in a position to regulate internet gambling since the department of trade and industry has stated that it has the regulations in place to prevent people from gambling online. “That means you can regulate it properly because you already have the ability to control it,” Forster pointed out.