Anti-online gambling proponents continue to voice their opposition against gambling online as a very specific threat to the health of the casino gambling industry. Perhaps the most outspoken and influential antagonist against online gambling is billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson. He’s well known for his millions of dollars in contributions to American law makers in trying to influence legislation that would make the activity unlawful. There are no verifiable statistics that confirm online gaming activity as a detriment to brick and mortar casinos, yet the perception persists.
Now there’s news from the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA) that casino revenue continues to grow despite a rise in gambling online. CASA represents 36 of South Africa’s 38 casinos. Its members include Sun International, Tsogo Sun, Peermont Global and Caesars Entertainment’s London Clubs International brand. According to CASA’s latest annual Survey of Casino Entertainment, gross gambling revenue for the 2015-16 fiscal year was R18.2b (US $1.35 billion) representing a 6.7% increase.
The chairman of CASA, Jabu Mabuza, said that despite South Africa’s “negative economic look”, overall gambling revenue continues to rise. In referring to an additional casino license that was granted by the government this past summer, Mabuza said that there was no reasonable justification for it and that it would “promote instability and negatively impacts investor confidence.” He has instituted legal proceedings against the issuance of the license.
Mabuxa also noted that the “fast-tracked roll out of electronic bingo terminals without a national regulatory framework to support it, along with curbs on gambling ads and changes to liquor laws all have the potential to severely hamstring the industry’s ability to grow.”
As chairman of CASA, Mabuza said the organization was particularly concerned over the growth of illegal online gambling and it’s potential to harm the casino industry. He referenced the government’s loss of R140 million in tax revenue for 2015-16 to illegal online gambling. He pointed out that the government has promised to impose harsh new penalties against all who are involved in illegal gambling, including players, but nothing has materialized yet.
South Africa’s serious crime unit, the National Hawks, last week took down twenty illegal online gaming sites. This was followed up by another seizure of 198 computers and 281 slot machines from ten unlicensed locations. The head of the National Hawks, Mthandazo Ntlemeza, warned illegal operators and said “the chips are down and it’s only a matter of time before we invade your town.”