Illegal online gambling in South Africa is facing increased scrutiny from the government. Tougher laws are being passed that will aid the government in its enforcement of regulated online gambling. Perhaps the most effective of these sanctions will be the confiscation of illicit online winnings. Currently, the 2004 Gambling Act requires the government to apply to the High Court to confiscate illegal gambling winnings.
Earlier this year, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), published a paper outlining proposed tougher sanctions on the nation’s gambling industry. Additional sanctions included repositioning the National Gambling Board as the National Gambling Regulator, requiring ongoing monitoring of South Africa’s socio-economic patterns of gambling activity and to allow electronic forms of bingo, as long as there is no similarity to slot machines. Also, a portion of the 2004 Gambling Act would be repealed to allow the National Gambling Regulator to confiscate illegal online gambling winnings automatically.
Now, as of the first week of October 2016, the proposed changes by DTI have been incorporated into the new National Gambling Amendment Bill. The bill is available for preview and commenting by the public until Nov. 15, 2016.
Currently, only online sports betting is allowed in South Africa. Anyone wishing to play slots or other forms of online casino gambling must patronize a licensed international site that caters to South African gamblers. Any site not specifically licensed by South Africa would be considered illegal and any citizen visiting such sites would be subject to the new National Gambling Amendment Bill. Financial institutions would be specifically banned from processing payment transactions for illegal gambling activities. The National Gambling Regulator would be tasked with compiling a list of “unlawful gambling operators” with which financial firms would be prohibited from dealing. DTI Minister Rob Davies said the government would be keeping a sharp eye on gamblers’ online activity. “If you go online, we may not be able to stop you when you play the game, but when you win, we get you.”
Other aspects of the new bill include a ban on gambling advertising, either by fax, multi-media messaging or text messaging. Gambling schools aimed at providing gambling teaching services through electronic media would also be banned.
Bookmakers will also be affected by the new law. On the markets that they offer, they will be required to pay for intellectual property rights and will also have to contribute “a reasonable amount towards the development of the horse racing industry.” The definition of “a reasonable amount” is still to be determined.
Betting on sports pools, lottery and lottery results will be allowed, but the license holders for such services will be required to contribute a reasonable amount towards the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund in order to ensure “that the authority of the National Lotteries Act is not undermined.”