02/09/2012 : TOOTHLESS BULLDOG?
South African gambling regulator makes a surprising admission
South Africa may have some draconian anti-online gambling legalization on the books, including the prosecution of individual internet gamblers a la Washington State, but can these be effectively enforced?
Apparently not, according to a remarkably frank admission to the publication ITWeb by the chief executive of the National Gambling Board, Baby Tyawa.
Tyawa said her organisation is "powerless to stop international online casinos illegally offering their services to South African punters, because the Internet is virtual and the board does not have any international jurisdiction."
All that can be done is to communicate with other regulators and seek their help, or attempt to catch local punters using illegal gambling websites.
The gambling regulator said that the Board was aware that South Africans could easily access offshore casinos offering internet betting and gambling in SA currency, but there was little that the Board could do about it unless the servers were in South Africa…and she admitted: "There is a lot of illegal online gambling going on that we are not aware of.”
On the threat level, SA banks have warned their credit card clients that online gambling is illegal; government authorities repeatedly publicise the extreme punitive measures available in order to discourage gamblers from visiting overseas websites; and operators are regularly informed that if they are blacklisted it may disqualify them from obtaining a South African licence should the country eventually legalise the pastime.
The authorities have also intimated that they attempt to track punters through credit card transactions via the South African Reserve Bank and the Banking Council of SA. However, sometimes the wagers are hidden as “leisure” and cannot be traced.
Legalisation is an event that is unlikely to come about for at least two years, according to experts. A government commission has recommend legalization and licensing, but the government has been studying the possibilities for years and appears to be no further forward.
Thus far there have been no prosecutions for online gambling, although there is provision for imprisonment, seizure of winnings and fines as high as Rands 10 million
In the meantime, to quote Ms. Tyawa on enforcing the ban: “We are the first to accept it's an impossible mission.”