ALL BETS ARE OFF FOR UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF SA GAMBLING

On 15 November 2015 the Department of Trade and Industry was expected to release the results of industry commentary regarding their policy document aimed at improving legislation for gambling industry regulation in South Africa, and could determine which businesses may or may not operate legally in the sector.

This discussion has come to the forefront due to the need for revised laws which accommodate for both the traditional and online betting and gambling sectors, and to put clear projections in place for the mandate of the National Gambling Board – the body responsible for ensuring effective and consistent enforcement of the National Gambling Act and its statutes.

According to Tasoulla Hadjigeorgiou, CEO of Lottostar.co.za, the renewed policies seek to address the occurrence and negative consequences of illegal or irresponsible gambling, but should also work towards creating a healthy, effectively regulated industry in which legal service providers can operate. “This can be achieved through effective and transparent laws, which are laid out after a full review of the industry,” says Hadjigeorgiou. “In order to ensure enforceable and clearly understandable parameters of the gambling and betting sector in South Africa, there is a need for all stakeholders to participate in sharing valuable insights and knowledge ahead of the negotiations of the new amendments.”

Hadjigeorgiou adds that this will assist with enabling a comprehensive and practical approach to policy making, which address both traditional gambling and betting legislation, as well as that geared towards the rapidly evolving virtual gaming landscape.

“As we rapidly move into the advanced digital age, the fast pace of new betting and gambling technologies which have become available has seen legislation having a tough time keeping up,” says Hadjigeorgiou. “As a result, many legislations have become irrelevant or contradictory to new developments and capabilities of the industry.”

Without clear control and enforcement, significant industry challenges have arisen in the sector under the current legislation. These include the proliferation of illegally operated online betting sites, as well as inconsistencies. These include contradicting policies at a national level versus provincial policies, which create limitations and hurdles for legal operators – factors which discourage industry development and investment.

“With the cooperation of industry stakeholders and governing bodies, it is possible to create a market for gambling and betting in South Africa that offers opportunities such as economic growth, job creation and profitability,” Hadjigeorgiou concludes.

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