Monday July 29, 2013 :  SOUTH AFRICAN RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING PROGRAM AMONG THE BEST
 
International study shows that South Africa achieves more with less
 
Only 1 percent of South Africans are problem gamblers, whilst around 3 percent exhibit behaviour that pegs them as "moderate" potential risk players, according to a new international study conducted by Toronto-based Globescan.
 
Reporting on the study over the weekend, the publication Business Report said that it found that South Africa’s National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) is a global leader for effectively promoting a responsible attitude to gambling despite the fact that other countries, including Britain, New Zealand and Canada, spend more on it.
 
Many South Africans visit the nation's land casino resorts for recreation, relaxing at shows and restaurants and doing little gambling, whilst others gamble moderate amounts of money, the study found.
 
Responsible Gambling spokesperson Carol Knoetzer told Business Report that the organisation offered round-the-clock advice to troubled gamblers, and a toll-free line.
 
"The incidence of problem gambling in South Africa has remained stable since 2005," Knoetzer told the newspaper "This is consistent with the developing world but below that of South Africa’s Asian counterparts.
 
“The number of those who score as high risk of problem gambling was in the region of 1 percent in 2011. These are people for whom gambling is an addiction which they cannot easily control and who, like other addicts, often do significant harm to themselves and others.
 
“A somewhat larger proportion of the population, probably from 3 percent to 4 percent, are at moderate risk of gambling problematically; people who, with varying degrees of frequency, gamble more than they can afford to and run the risk that their gambling may cause problems in their lives.”
 
The Globescan report observed that much of the NRGP’s success in South Africa is due to sound and coherent planning from the start, the collaborative nature of stakeholder relations instead of hostility between the gambling industry and the NRGP, and the success of its public awareness campaign.
 
“The absence of conflict between the industry, regulators and government is positive,” the report notes. “South Africa’s programme, while being more effective, also offers the most cost-effective option.
 
"South Africa spends $2 million (R19.5 million) in comparison with $18 million in New Zealand, $7 million in Britain and a hefty $85 million in Canada. In return, South Africa’s NRGP provides a comprehensive programme of treatment, prevention, training, a national schools programme and research.
 
“Britain, for example, was found to deliver fewer services, engages in very little prevention and public awareness work and funds very little research that could be used to formulate appropriate preventative measures or good public policy.”
 
The NRGP was described by the Globescan study as independent and "honest in its dealings with both media and government.”
 
The study found that in South Africa there was a noticeable absence of "…vested interests attempting to hijack the programme, management and structure," and that this ensured  the "…cost-effectiveness of activities."
 
The research highlighted the credibility of messages delivered by the NGRP to the public; its use of research to inform best practice in prevention and treatment; good information-sharing and collaboration among service providers; sound relations with the media; and peer review and evaluation.
 
However, Globescan warned that a potential weakness exists in addressing internet and social media gambling.
 
South Africa's political establishment has wrestled for over a decade with the pros and cons of regulating and licensing online gambling, despite repeated study tours overseas by politicians and extensive research and formal reviews of the industry, yet there does not appear to have been significant progress. The debate remains mired in parliamentary committees and civil service deliberations.
 
NRGP chairman Vincent Maphai said potential problems that could result from Internet gambling in South Africa were being researched.