South Africa Online Poker Ban Proposal Taken to Task by Legislators

November 2nd, 2014 | by Kaycee James
South Africa online poker ban

South African officials are considering a ban on online poker and other Internet and land-based gambling games. (Image: pokeresq.com)

Officials in South Africa have introduced a sweeping set of proposals that would ban online poker and all other forms of Internet gambling in the country. Those rules have been suggested by the Department of Trade and Industry, and are currently being discussed with the National Gambling Policy Council, which features both national and provincial representatives.

The online poker ban would be part of a much wider range of gambling regulations, which would also include a prohibition on dog racing and new forms of gambling that aren’t currently legal in the country, as well as stronger regulations on electronic bingo terminals and horse racing.

Limiting New Forms of Gambling

According to Trade and Industry deputy director-general Zodwa Ntuli, the proposal to ban online poker is based on the government’s desire to limit gambling in the country to just the traditional forms that are already in existence there. Ntuli also said that her department recognized the fact that South Africa has a high rate of problem gambling and personal debt, which influenced the group’s decision-making.

But while Ntuli and others are pushing for a full-scale online gambling ban, other public officials aren’t sure that’s the way to go. Lawmakers in the Democratic Alliance, the opposition party, have strongly opposed such a ban, saying that a policy of regulation is a better way to protect South Africans from the dangers of gambling.

“That is a very, very bad decision,” said DA trade and industry spokesperson Geordin Hill-Lewis about the policy recommendation. “I fiercely disagree with that view. It is completely shortsighted to say that it is better for South Africans not to be allowed to gamble online when there is patently significant demand in the country to do that. It is for government to facilitate that in the safest way possible.”

Conflict on Gambling Issues

In South Africa, gambling issues are regulated using a similar framework to that of the United States and some other nations, in which the federal government sets broad policies, but it is up to individual states or provinces to issue licenses and craft specific regulations. Ntuli conceded that this meant there were conflicting interests between provincial governments that wanted to use gambling as a revenue source and the federal government.

This could show itself most dramatically in a battle over the future of electronic bingo machines. Provincial governments have been licensing the terminals, despite the fact that there is no national policy on the games as of yet.

The federal government now wants to limit the number of machines allowed nationwide, and would also like to restrict where they can be placed in order to keep gambling out of areas like shopping malls. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has already placed a moratorium on issuing licenses for the machines for the time being.

In the world of online poker, South Africa is considered a gray market jurisdiction at the moment, as there is no regulatory framework, but also no outright ban (though that would change if the new recommendations were put into law). While PokerStars and Full Tilt recently exited a host of gray markets, South Africa was reportedly not among these, perhaps owing to the fact that it is home to a larger player base than many of the African, Asian and Middle Eastern nations abandoned by the Amaya Gaming-owned sites.

One Comment

  1. M Jacobs says:

    Before apartheid only horse racing was legal in S.A. In 1994/5 if I am correct, South Africa legals Casino gambling and endorses ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ Through Mandela . Years Down trevor Manuel flips the Bill on poker and we all got bombarded to play from Piggspeak Poker and then claims were that the government was going to do something about it and its been years and still the government has done jack. This Zodwa Ntuli is nothing but supporting B.E.E racism and is trying to kill whites financially . White people are already at the bottom of the food chain because of B.E.E and whites are now begging at the streets because of Nelson Mandela, Now Ntuli wants to ban us poker players from playing online poker permanatly so that their prediction is most likely to push poker players towards casinos to promote gambling on slot machines, roulette, blackjack at Sun Internatinal casinos where you play against the house, where the RNG is not random and where the house always wins and the government collects high percentage taxes Monthly. Casinos have 0% skill, Handicapped luck according to losses on MVG accounts. Where online poker is the total opposite with rakeback options. This NTULI has never probably played poker in her life and is just getting told what to say and making decisions based on whats been thrown at her and not getting voiced opinions from poker players at all. This is all a mirage to South African poker players careless of colour , but 95% plus of players are white and coloured. To hell with the racist B.E.E government .

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