Wednesday October 29 ,2014 : S.A. GOVERNMENT TO BAN ONLINE GAMBLING?
After over a decade of dithering, has the Department of Trade and Industry opted for prohibition?
It's taken more than a decade of expensive fact-finding trips, studies and political debate, but it appears from a Business Day report Wednesday that the South African government has decided on the prohibition of online gambling rather than licensing and regulating the industry.
The decision to stick with traditional forms of gambling and eschew internet gambling includes a proposed ban on dog racing.
Business Day reports that the DTI proposal is currently undergoing yet more discussion at the National Gambling Policy Council, which will in due course submit the final draft of its policy to the Cabinet for approval before inviting public comment.
The BD report quotes DTI deputy director-general Zodwa Ntuli and chief director MacDonald Netshitenzhe, who told MPs on Tuesday that the proposal to ban online gambling was based on the view that the government had the capability to enforce regulations of the industry, and wanted to limit gambling to the traditional forms currently in existence.
Netshitenzhe argued before parliament's trade and industry portfolio committee that the ability of online gambling to create jobs was not quantifiable, and that several nations around the world had outlawed the practice.
The Democratic Alliance official opposition opposed the government view and suggested that regulation and licensing was a better course, with spokesman Geordin Hill-Lewis observing:
"That is a very, very bad decision. I fiercely disagree with that view. It is completely shortsighted to say that it is better for South Africans not to be allowed to gamble online when there is patently significant demand in the country to do that. It is for government to facilitate that in the safest way possible."
Geordin Hill-Lewis warned that banning could require extensive resources devoted to enforcement.
Ntuli defended the proposal to ban, claiming that South Africa has a higher level of problem gambling and personal debt than many other countries.
She also intimated that the government wanted to introduce changes in the regulation of horse racing as a means to achieve transformation favouring the national demographic majority through the selective issue of licenses.