South Africa's National Gambling Amendment Bill On Last Legs

December 16, 2021
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​​​​​​​South Africa’s National Gambling Amendment bill has once again failed to gain majority approval from the National Council of Provinces.

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South Africa’s National Gambling Amendment bill has once again failed to gain majority approval from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

At a vote on Tuesday (December 14) during an NCOP plenary hearing, only three provinces voted in favour of the bill introduced by the minister of trade and industry, while four voted against it and two abstained.

The bill will now be passed to a mediation committee where it must be passed with a supporting vote of at least two-thirds of its members within 30 days.

However, one member of the NCOP pointed out during the plenary hearing on the bill that it is unlikely there will be any agreed-upon changes to the current bill over the next 30 days, putting the draft legislation at death’s door.

The aim of the bill is 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.

Dog racing and bets on dog racing would also be banned, casino regulations strengthened and new horseracing regulations would be introduced.

The bill would also reposition 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.

In February 2021, a select committee report outlined and responded to many of the provinces’ objections to the bill, including the proposed establishment of the NGR without a board structure and potential issues regarding corporate governance.

Another issue raised by the provinces was the NGB already achieving “100 percent of its performance targets year on year” and receiving a clean audit for the past consecutive years.

However, the report responds that the NGB would be structured like other entities under the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, such as the Public Prosecutor.

The report also dismissed concerns that giving the NGR powers to curb payments to illegal gambling operations would be implausible.

Numerous criticisms have also been raised with the proposed National Central Electronic Monitoring System (NCEMS), stemming from fears by provincial officials that it will cover all types of gambling.

Currently, the NCEMS monitors limited payout machines (LPMs), whereas casinos and bingo games already have their own monitoring systems to which provincial licensing authorities (PLA) have access.

The report found the NCEMS changes “won't interfere with the functions of the PLA, but will rather strengthen their ability to regulate” and that “existing monitoring systems at various gambling venues will continue to function as normal”.

Issues of autonomy and independence of the provincial inspectorate were also raised, as national inspectors would be allowed to investigate without prior approval of the province and without being accompanied by the provincial inspectors.

The National Gambling Amendment Bill 2018 lapsed in May 2019 before being revived in October 2019.

A year later in October 2020, the bill also failed to gain approval from a majority of the country’s nine provinces.

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