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Changes to be Implemented Following the Enactment of South Africa’s Remote Gambling Bill

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Finally, the South African Democratic Alliance introduced a private member bill on remote gambling (B-11-2024). The bill is a legislative proposition for governing Internet gaming. While the legislation had set the legal framework since 2008, it could be argued that South Africa, in particular, did not have adequate regulation on Internet gambling until the enactment of the piece of legislation. 

As a fan of the gambling industry’s growth and its health, I do personally understand how the significant role played by this bill is fundamental to providing a remote gambling best practice environment.

The bill’s importance lies in its potential to address various fundamental issues surrounding online gaming in South Africa. As such, it sets out new licensing arrangements, recommended operator regulations, and protective measures aimed at developing a responsible remote betting industry.

Background of the Remote Gambling Bill

One major concern has been that online gambling was unregulated in South Africa before the Remote Gambling Bill was passed. After being assented to in 2008, the National Gambling Amendment Act has not been implemented to govern Internet gambling for almost 16 years. This legal loophole has encouraged criminal activities inside the sector and weakened the rule of law. In addition, it has led to billions of rand’s worth of lost revenue and the end of job opportunities for other gaming jurisdictions.

The Democratic Alliance’s efforts to bridge the legal gap and safeguard players and the industry from criminal elements have been commendable. The party has initiated the Remote Gambling Bill, which aims to regulate the issuing of licences, provide procedures for objections, regulate advertising, protect minors and vulnerable persons and ensure compliance with FICA. The bill has been carefully crafted over the past two years to balance protection, regulation, and administration.

The bill’s objective is to promote establishing a responsible remote gambling industry in South Africa. It introduces a new licensing system, proposed operator regulations, and protection measures to prevent gambling-related harm and ensure the effective protection of players. It also seeks to address the lack of regulation that has led to criminal activity and revenue loss in the industry.

Key Provisions of the Remote Gambling Bill

The following are the provisions introduced by the bill.

Licensing System

Among measures proposed by the Remote Gambling Bill, the concept of licensing enjoys the status of a core element. Unlike the previous licence type, the discussed bill introduces three various licences to regulate all aspects of the remote gambling industry.

Remote Gambling Operator Licence

Remote gambling businesses, such as online casinos, sports betting, and poker rooms, are required to obtain this licence. Thus, they aim to ensure that operators comply with the current legislative rules and standards and are fair across all aspects.

For this reason, the operators will have to provide evidence to show that the business plan is viable. This means that the company and its business arm must be willing to provide information on the stability of finance at the corporate and business levels. The company must meet the technical and operational policies set down by the regulating authorities to issue this licence.

Manufacturer/Supplier/Maintenance Provider Licence

This licence is designed for companies involved in creating, supplying, or maintaining the software and hardware used in remote gambling. This includes developers of gaming software, companies offering maintenance services, and providers of payment systems, which will include cryptocurrency. With South Africa’s increasing adoption of cryptocurrency, there is a huge potential that it will soon be a common payment method in online casinos.

Applicants must prove that their products and services adhere to the technical standards for secure and fair remote gambling. They must also comply with data protection and cybersecurity regulations.

Employment Licence

This licence targets individuals in key positions within the remote gambling industry, such as managers, technical staff, and compliance officers. It ensures that personnel in critical roles are qualified and trustworthy.

Individuals must pass background checks and demonstrate competence and experience in their respective roles.

Role of Provincial Licensing Authorities and the National Gambling Board

The licensing process is a collaborative effort involving both provincial licensing authorities and the National Gambling Board (NGB). Provincial licences are issued by the provincial governments, which are at liberty to ensure that they benchmark while issuing the licence on the conditions and requirements of their province. On the other hand, the NGB oversees, and also to some extent polices, the national licensing to ensure that all the states’ policies and mechanisms are in line with the standard licensing practices and policies.

Licence Suspension or Withdrawal

To effectively regulate the iGaming industry, the bill also allows for the suspension of licences for operators who violate set license requirements and other regulations about malpractice or poor standard offering of the remote gambling sector. This measure helps strengthen the rule that there should be only several operators who are fully capable of meeting set compliance standards and ready out there in the market to operate their businesses responsibly. The players are shielded while the credibility of the industry is upheld at the same time.

Player Protection Measures

The Remote Gambling Bill focuses on player protection, and several measures have been included to ensure that players are safeguarded and responsible gambling is promoted. These measures include

  • Age Limit: the bill states that individuals should only be allowed to participate in online betting activities if they are 18 or above. This age limit serves as protection for minors.
  • No Credit: to help ensure that players do not overextend themselves, the bill prohibits operators from allowing players to extend credit. This one is to prevent developing gambling debt and encourage responsible play.
  • Self-exclusion means that the operators must provide players with the option to opt-out, involving personal choices made by the player to refrain from gambling for some time. One feature of this tool is most crucial to people having problem gambling because it offers the opportunity to step away from gambling for some time and get assistance if necessary.
  • Responsible Gambling Tools: operators must offer RG tools, including deposit control, to ensure that those using the systems regularly do not indulge in excessive gambling. These tools give players the ability to limit the money they spend during games, which ensures players are healthier in their gambling activities.

Advertising Regulations

Publicity also forms a significant part of advertising as it shapes the population’s perception and alters gamers’ behaviour. Recognising this, the Remote Gambling Bill introduces strict regulations to govern the advertising of online gambling services; they are

  1. Prohibition of Misleading Ads: the bill also requires that all the advertisements for iGaming services be transparent and free from any deceit. This way, a player is well-informed without being forced to part with their money because of the bells and whistles usually associated with get-rich schemes.
  2. Responsible Gambling Messaging: promotional information and ads of all forms of gambling are required to incorporate messages of responsible gambling. This encompasses the types of danger accompanied by betting and assistance information if needed. It is intended to serve as a medium through which people can be informed on various negative impacts of gambling recklessly.

Importance of Responsible Advertising

Promoting gambling more responsibly is crucial to shielding gamers from issues related to gambling. It is necessary to stress that such regulation is the means to introduce a greater level of responsible gambling through honest and open advertisements and even high-risk warnings. In this sense, responsible advertising aims at minimising, through caution and helpful information, the chances of people getting addicted to gambling and other related disorders.

Potential Impact of the Remote Gambling Bill

The enactment of the Remote Gambling Bill is expected to bring about several positive changes, benefiting the industry and society.

Reducing Criminal Activity

The bill also sought to achieve one of its goals concerning reducing criminal activities attributable to uncontrolled gambling. The given bill helps the country control and minimise unauthorised gambling activities like fraud and money laundering, among other things. 

Protecting Players

The bill introduces some protection measures meant to protect players from the dangers or risks gambling can cause if not properly managed. Some protection measures include age restrictions, prohibition of credit, and self-exclusion, among other responsible gambling tools. If these protection measures are implemented, the gaming industry in South Africa will certainly become safer for all.

Revenue Growth and Job Creation

The Remote Gambling Bill is also expected to provide significant economic benefits. The legalisation of the industry of remote gambling could add revenues to governments and create employment. Revenues and economic activity will increase since a legalised business tends to attract legitimate operators. Additionally, the demand for regulatory compliance, technical support, and related services would create new job opportunities, further boosting the economy.

Cross-party Support and Legislative Approval

There is a need to press for the passing of the Remote Gambling Bill by the National Assembly, which counsels that since the ruling party is the ANC, support from other parties has to be sought. It depends on the law’s proponents as to how many people they will mobilise in support of the bill and the stand that will be used to counter any point made by members of the Parliament opposed to the bill.

Conclusion

Overall, the approval of this Remote Gambling Bill is another step in the right direction for South Africa’s Internet gambling. The bill will provide an entire licensing regime to make a safer, more transparent, and responsible gambling environment the norm, backed up by the most extensive set of player protections and strict advertisement controls. The bill works to protect players, address the grey online gambling market that was previously unregulated, curb crime and encourage the development of the sector. 

The fact that the bill could bring in more money and create more jobs should drive its importance home even further. As someone invested in the industry’s development, I believe that this bill could help play a very important role in creating a responsible remote gambling sector in South Africa.

Kelvin Jones is the Senior Online Casino Expert with PlayCasino. He describes himself as the “ultimate guide in selecting the finest online casinos”, and provides insights into local sites, focusing on security and user experience. Kelvin’s comprehensive reviews and strategies stem from a deep understanding of the industry’s dynamics, ensuring players can access top-notch gaming experiences.

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