Interested parties have just four days to respond to the South African Department of Trade and Industry invitation for public comment on its draft National Gambling Amendment Bill. The proposed Bill, which was approved by Cabinet in December 2006 for tabling in Parliament, will effectively legalise Internet gambling by providing for the regulation of interactive gambling and the licensing of interactive gambling activities. Submissions are due on or before Monday, 12 February.
National Gambling Board CEO Thibedi Majake says “Government concerns regarding online and cell phone gambling include the prevention of money laundering, protecting ‘problem’ gamblers from themselves, and keeping children away from an adult activity’.
Majake considers the US approach – to ban online gambling – foolish and likely to drive the activity underground, where none of the listed concerns can be meaningfully addressed. Hence the South African decision to regulate. He said ‘The move will also have the added benefit of fattening the government's tax coffers, and providing some transparency into an opaque world. No one knows the size of the local market either in numbers or revenue. Amending the current gambling law will make it easier to generate statistics”.