South Africa’s second largest political party is looking to introduce overarching online gambling regulations, following years of failed attempts to fully open up the sector.
The main aim of the draft bill is to “fill the gap in law” in South Africa and to “address the issues faced by the Amendment Act which is one of the reasons why it was never brought into effect”.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has invited stakeholders to comment on the draft Remote Gambling Bill, within 30 days after it was published in the Government Gazette on September 2, 2022.
It would allow for the issuing of licences to be controlled by provincial licensing authorities (PLAs) and would regulate online gambling advertising.
The National Gambling Board would still have a host of functions, including providing oversight and monitoring of licensees.
Additionally, it would “provide for the application, renewal, suspension, cancellation and transfer processes for different categories of remote gambling licences”.
A final draft bill will be made available after it is introduced in parliament.
DA MP Dean Macpherson wrote in the draft’s explanatory note that South Africans have participated in online gambling over the past ten years and by not regulating it “the erosion of the rule of law and criminal activity is being encouraged, while the public is not effectively protected”.
“At the same time, a lack of regulation is resulting in revenue and jobs being lost to other gambling jurisdictions,” according to Macpherson.
In order to have the bill approved it will require cross-party support as the ruling ANC party holds an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly.
Online gambling in South Africa is prohibited, but online betting licences are available and are issued by the nine different PLAs. Live dealer casino games are permitted in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga.
The previous National Gambling Amendment Bill sought to make major changes to the 2004 National Gambling Act, such as amending and deleting certain definitions and transferring the regulation of bets on the national lottery, foreign lottery, lottery results and sports pools to the National Lotteries Commission.
The bill would also have repositioned the National Gambling Board (NGB) as the National Gambling Regulator (NGR), enhancing its powers and duties, as well as providing for new offences and transitional agreements.
This point proved unpopular with several of the PLA and played a major part in its failure to gain approval for several years.
In August 2022, major land-based operator Sun International revealed the launch of its online slot game offerings in its results presentation.
The South African market for online slot games was estimated at R5.7bn ($340m) in 2021.