Starting the week off in positive vein comes the news that the South African Parliament has at last approved a new Internet gambling law to strictly regulate and licence operators. The approved bill will now go to President Thabo Mbeki for signing into law.
A memorandum attached to the National Gambling Amendment Bill said the interactive gambling industry in Africa's biggest economy was currently unregulated and "generally plagued" by crime. "This situation has resulted in a considerable loss of revenue to the national fiscus and compromises the country's reputation as a responsible global citizen," a spokesman said.
Reporting on the passage of the bill, Reuters said that it addresses the negative socio-economic effects associated with gambling and deals specifically with issues of problem gambling, player protection, licensing, taxation and advertising. Other media reports suggest that the legalization allows both Internet and cellphone gambling, as well as limited advertising for e-interactive gambling as approved by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, but this has not yet been confirmed.
In terms of the law every online player must be registered with a properly licensed interactive gambling provider who has been reviewed and approved, and affidavits will be required to ensure players who register are older than 18 years.
"The purpose of this Act is to ensure that all gambling activities are conducted responsibly, fairly and honestly to protect minors and other vulnerable persons from the negative effects of gambling," a government statement said. Measures to obviate prolem or underage gambling include electronic monitoring systems.
Once signed by the President, the new law will be policed by South Africa's National Gambling Board.
The National Gambling Amendment Bill has had a long and difficult passage through legislators despite an exhaustive study of the global Internet gambling industry commissioned by the government some years ago (see previous InfoPowa reports). The Bill has been the subject of heated and frequent debate before the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee until it was finally agreed in the National Assembly that licensing and regulation was a better course than prohibition.
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