Changes required to combat illicit gaming in SA

Since the 1960s, when gambling restrictions were relaxed, the nation has seen an increase in illicit gaming. The latest unlawful internet gambling threatens to destroy a lucrative business.

The rapid rise in illicit gaming in South Africa has legal bodies worried. The country’s gambling business dates back to the 1670s, when it was first regulated. It is also Africa’s largest gaming market, despite lax legal enforcement.

Since the 1960s, when gambling restrictions were relaxed, the nation has seen an increase in illicit gaming. The latest unlawful internet gambling threatens to destroy a lucrative business.

Gambling in South Africa

Gambling was initially controlled in South Africa in the 1670s. Back then, all types of gambling were deemed criminal, and anyone engaged were severely punished.

Until 1965, when horse racing and gambling were classified as a sport, allowing individuals to wager on contests. It was also used to promote several sports. Then came illicit gaming, notably in the 1970s. Between 1970 and 1990, the country started to face the effects of an increase in illicit gaming companies.

In 1996, a legal change allowed for a nationwide lottery and casino license. The change was designed to increase income through increasing tourists. When evaluating online casinos, In South Africa, the technological storm of the 2000s forced the regulation of internet gaming. Except for sports betting, internet gambling was not penalized until 2010.

They found comfort and methods to evade the law since law enforcement saw it as a minor criminal compared to other cybercrimes.

Policy Gaps

The Casino Association of South Africa (CASA) says cops are unwilling to change. Legal gamblers’ advocates can only raise difficulties, not solve them.

Most illicit gambling firms now openly operate in shopping malls as internet cafés and lounges. Some have hired security to keep an eye on law officers and campaigners.

The regulatory autonomy of South Africa’s nine provinces has also greatly aided this development. Besides, it has made it harder for legitimate enterprises to avoid legal restrictions, making them less competitive. Despite providing a way for stakeholders to recommend norms and standards, the National Gambling Board seldom reacts.

The crippling restrictions have led to an upsurge in criminal industries like drug trafficking. Money from illicit gaming operations is used to fuel unlawful activities.

The over 2% decline in legal gaming income may be due to bettors choosing criminal companies over legal ones.

Next Step

The majority of citizens see unlawful gambling as a harmless activity with no direct victims. Law enforcement are also reluctant to address these concerns. The only path ahead is for the legislation to alter, like in sophisticated gaming markets like the UK.

In the UK, enabling laws enable legitimate enterprises. On-line gambling in the UK is now favoured by legal casinos over illicit ones. The nation protects consumers while restricting foreign competition.

Consistency in gambling legislation throughout South Africa’s nine provinces might lower regulatory costs, promoting legal enterprises. Years of tough law enforcement have failed to curb unlawful gaming. If the trend continues, South Africa’s biggest gaming market and a major source of government income would vanish.

The government should supervise internet cafes and lounges and penalize landlords who rent to unregistered companies. This will discourage illicit gaming while boosting legitimate ones.

Affected firms are also more motivated to identifying and resolving illegitimate rivals. So the government should actively facilitate discussion with their representatives to find a solution.

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