|Laws to prohibit Internet gambling could well be unenforceable as the new National Gambling Bill goes before the country’s parliamentary committees for debate. |
Online gambling is subject to regulation not only by the Gambling Act, but also by each of the country's nine provinces, all of which have their own gaming regulations. Also, the Electronics Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act and the Reserve Bank Act affect online gaming as they cover foreign exchange transactions.
The new Bill will prohibit online gambling and online casinos advertising. And South African punters better watch out too: gambling online on an individual level will be banned and made a criminal offence.
According to IT attorney Reinhardt Buys, a February 2003 survey by the National Gambling Board found that 0.6% of South Africans gamble online (about 250 000 people).
Buys says the new Bill could encounter unexpected problems and is unlikely to stop online gambling. He says it is almost impossible to police the industry, which could be driven underground by the legislation.
Francois Vorster, marketing director of Piggs Peak Casino, says each of the country's nine provinces controls its own gambling legislation, although the laws are broadly similar in implementation.
“For instance, the Gauteng Gambling Law says gambling takes place at the point of interaction. This means that if I gamble online in my office in Johannesburg, then it is illegal,” he says.
However, the ECT Act, although primarily aimed at banking-type transactions, states that the point of interaction is where the server is located.
“If we had to turn off our servers, which are located in Swaziland, then one would not be able to gamble,” he says.
Piggs Peak says it is the only Internet gambling company to transact in rand, so as not to violate South Africa's foreign exchange laws. The server is situated in Swaziland, which is part of the SA rand common currency area.
Earlier, the South African Chamber of Business (SACOB) said: “SACOB believes this provision will be very difficult to police. One only has to consider the high rate of pornographic material and spam that is distributed via the Internet and the difficulty in combating it to be aware that the monitoring of material accessed over the Internet is an extremely difficult task, and as yet no appropriate solutions have been found.”