South Africa is set to move towards the introduction of legal online casinos with the tabling in parliament of the Draft Remote Gambling Bill 2014. Under the bill, introduced by MP Geordin Hill-Lewis, internet gaming operators would in future be able to apply for a remote gaming licence from the South African National Gambling Board, meaning that onshore online casinos would be available in South Africa for the first time.
Currently, under the provisions of the 2008 National Gambling Act, legal online betting in South Arica can only take place on sports events.
The bill aims to establish a regulatory framework for the legalised operation of online casinos and other betting sites in South Africa, and seeks to ensure that all all online casinos adhere to a number of operating principles and standards, and follow fair play and responsible gambling policies. The bill also includes regulations that seek to ensure that online casino sites cannot used for money laundering or to fund illegal activities.
According to the proposed legislation, “Remote gambling would be permitted on, but is not limited to, (i) virtual gambling games; (ii) person-to-person gambling; (iii) equal chance gambling; and (iv) casino games, bingo and sports betting,” but online gaming operators will not be permitted to extend credit to players.
Applications for online gaming operator licences will be made on a provincial basis meaning that, in the words of the bill, it will be necessary for operators to locate “some part of the remote gambling equipment” within the province to which the application was made. It is also proposed that there should be different classes of operating licence, while the bill also includes provisions for players outside of South Africa to play at sites operated from within the Republic, provided they register to do so.
Operators of online gaming sites would be taxed on their profits, with revenue generated being split 70-30 between the provincial and national governments respectively, and it is believed that the income that it is estimated would be generated is one of the primary reasons behind the government’s moves to regulate online casinos.
There have been previous unsuccessful attempts to legalise online casinos in South Africa, the last in 2007, although analysts believe that this new bill has a far greater chance of succeeding. This current bill is open for public comment until 23 May 2014 and, if it proceeds through parliament, it is expected that draft legislation could be in place as early as the beginning of 2015, with the first licences to be issued some 18 months after that.