By Jerry Whittaker
It is a well known fact that after approximately 15 years, the online gambling industry has become a well established industry – a mainstream industry. This is particularly pertinent of the UK where the industry is most mature, as well as legalised and regulated. While the rest of the world lags behind in the online gambling casinos business. South Africa is taking a fresh look at the fact that online gambling is not allowed, after a pretty recent turnaround on the law regarding these activities. That is – gambling online is not allowed any longer, except for sports betting.
New with a sports betting a presence in the Republic of South Africa is one of the biggest betting exchange brands in the world – the mighty London Stock Exchange listed – Betfair. Their Public Affairs Manager – Tom Tuxworth – said that in their estimation, South Africa could generate revenue of R6 billion from online gambling; if this industry was properly regulated, licensed and managed.
R6 billion is a great deal of money, and South Africa is a country with a strong culture of gambling, there are many land- based casinos.
Tuxworth also said that the global industry for online gambling casinos was expected to expand by at least 10% during the next five years. They are also expecting a great deal of growth for the mobile casino industry. He made suggestions that law must regulate all products, to ensure high standards of sporting integrity as well as player protection. Money laundering and fraud also need to be handled well, and after a recent online scam to steal R43 million from Postbank, better cyber-policing should also be in place. With effective online gambling laws in place, policing online may also improve; Gambling laws are often directly linked to financial Acts.
High taxes and onerous regulations often force online gambling casinos, operators and players to choose offshore virtual destinations, and all countries which regulate these services should look at ways to attract business not make it more difficult for them. For example the British-facing gambling marketplace has lost hundreds of gambling streams of revenue to offshore destinations, due to their ridiculous tax regime.
The way we look at things, if we had a choice in the matter, we would rather have hundreds of online gambling websites paying 5% in tax than only a handful of websites paying 15%! What do you think – will SA learn this lesson; this a country where taxation is high?
While Britain contemplates changing their laws and Europe is deregulating, South Africa is taking a look at how to govern online gambling casinos in a responsible, financially effective manner. The US is also still ‘thinking’ about this industry, as is Australia and New Zealand. But in the meantime online gamblers from all of these countries still continue to play at sites which may not be above board, but they are willing to take any chances for an opportunity to win. That effectively means, that while Governments procrastinate, billion of currency in revenues is going to offshore sites. They need to find effective ways to get their hands on a share and this means fair regulation – will they throw away the winning hand?