Gambling activities have always been a hot topic in South Africa, and society has always swung from one extreme to the other, whether sports betting and casino gambling were legalized or the country needed to tighten its grip on them. While many people strongly believe that the heavy restrictions already in place should remain, others are in favor of introducing legislative changes due to the huge potential in the industry.
South Africa’s current legal landscape
Gambling activities have been under strict control since 1673, and prior to 1996 all forms of gambling except betting on horse races were illegal. Interestingly, betting on horse races was exempt from the definition of gambling as it was considered a sporting activity.
The way the country’s gambling industry has developed took a significant turn in 1994 when a new democratic government took power and repealed the blanket ban on gambling activities. chance was passed two years later and introduced the country’s comprehensive licensing system.
Under the provisions of the act, provinces were allowed to begin licensing physical and interactive casinos. Additionally, the National Gambling Board has been delegated the right to oversee the manner in which gambling activities are conducted. After these legislative changes were approved, the gambling industry began to flourish and land-based casinos began to sprout. The national lottery, as well as other forms of gambling also began to gain momentum.
The market was further liberalized in 2004 when the National Gambling Act 1996 was repealed and a new law was introduced. That being said, the online gambling industry hasn’t seen much change as interactive casinos have remained illegal. In order for residents of the country to place their bets on the Internet, they were required to bet on sports using the services of operators who have a seal of approval in at least one of the nine provinces.
In 2008, lawmakers passed an amendment that was to completely legalize online gambling activities. The problem is that this amendment has not yet been enacted, and the issue was further complicated in 2010 when the court ruled that foreign casinos could not accommodate players from the country.
The future development of the online gambling industry in South Africa
The online gambling industry in South Africa has been at a standstill for over a decade as the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has yet to introduce the legislative and policy framework of the online gaming industry. Needless to say, as no action is taken by the DTIC, this leads to huge revenue and tax losses, which is exactly why experts are insisting that action be taken as soon as possible.
Experts consider the introduction of such legislative changes to be essential and predict that the online gambling industry will grow by around 12% over the next few years. Interestingly, in 2020, the online gambling industry in South Africa, which includes interactive casinos and sports betting platforms, generated around R8 billion. The industry is expected to continue to thrive and, as is the case in other parts of the world, growth is mainly driven by the widespread use of wearable devices.
Many experts have already expressed their concerns about the adverse effect of South Africa’s anti-gambling laws on their economy. Despite the fact that players are not allowed to use the services of offshore casinos, the number of these platforms that cater to the South African market without the necessary authorization is increasing sharply.
In addition to the lost employment and economic opportunities, it should be emphasized that the creation of a market regulation in South Africa and specifically the regulation of the online gambling industry, will eliminate many of the risks players face when using the services of unauthorized operators.
Despite the Gambling Review Commission, which was set up to analyze the gambling industry, stating that online casinos should be made available in South Africa, no such action has been taken so far. now, which leaves players with no other option but to use the services of illegal betting sites.