When you do a google search for “online gambling in South Africa”, one of the most prominent results include www.springbokcasino.co.za. It won Best Casino 2016 award by South Africa’s largest and trusted casino guide called playcasino.co.za. The site includes most of the casino games including table games, slots and poker, along with introducing new games every now and then, to excite and reward their loyal customers.
But not many people know that Springbokcasino.co.za is illegal and the player on the site or the operator could be caught who will then be liable to pay R10 million along/or with up to 10 years in jail. If the player is lucky enough to escape the penalty, he can still have his winning amount confiscated, before it reaches his bank account, by National Gambling Board (NGB), a body that administers unlawful winnings. But despite this, the players have been penalized again and again.
Why is Gambling Online in South Africa Illegal?
One of the major reasons for this is the indecisiveness of the government. To state it briefly, the National Gambling Act of 2004 (NGA) is responsible for regulating gambling in South Africa and it has also established NGB, which resulted in the provincial acts getting aligned with the act. The legislation provides a list of different types of gambling that is allowed, that includes ground based casino gambling and sports betting. When it comes to lotteries, it is being governed by Lotteries Act of 1997.
The National Gambling Amendment Act was produced in 2008. It helped set up a basic framework to welcome new sorts of gambling. It not only included interactive gambling, but also other new forms such as greyhound racing. But for some reason, the act did not end up getting promoted. Surprisingly though, since it was signed into law in 2008, without giving the commencement date.
The Offense and Location in South Africa
As the report weakened and was followed by a judgement in the appeal by Supreme Court – Casino Enterprises (Pty) Ltd (Swaziland) v Gauteng Gambling Board 2011. Mainly, a decision was upheld by the court related to North Gauteng High Court. It stated that online gambling was an activity that was not prohibited. According to the terms of NGA, even if it meant that the server that was related to the service was not located inside South Africa.
What is Legal According to NGA?
The ‘gambling activities’ are defined as per NGA as below:
- Placing a bet or accepting it. This includes a stake or acceptance of money or anything that is valuable, on odds that are fixed, bets that are open including bookmakers.
- Totalisator bet’s acceptance or placement.
- The availability of bingo or playing bingo in any form, including electronic versions.
- Playing a game for money (gambling game). The player stands a chance to receive any sort of payout, and making such forms available for use.
- Playing an amusement game that has a restricted prize, or making such a game available.
Online Gambling and Its Impact on South Africa
Lawrence Monnye, a senior lecturer at Unisa summed up the entire scenario in his thesis. It was published last year. He stated the following:
“The borderless nature of this activity brings it into direct competition with traditional land-based gambling establishments. They have been a source of revenue for many governments through licensing and taxation. More importantly, if not properly regulated, the borderless nature of this activity may result in providers offering their interactive gambling services without ever physically placing their equipment or operations in their targeted countries.”
The small part of the problem is gambling on personal computers. But most of this gambling happens in places known as internet cafes and ‘entertainment lounges’. They are not licensed and mostly operate on software that is imported from other countries.