Online gambling closer to legalization in South Africa

South Africa adopted a draft amendment bill that will legalize online and cellphone gambling if it is passed into law. The bill proposes a licensing system for players and the online gaming Web sites.

The amendment bill was submitted to the South African Cabinet in October. It was available for viewing, and supporters hope it will pass into law sometime in the first quarter of 2007.

Astrid Ludin, trade and industry deputy director-general, told media that a key challenge in drafting the legislation was to find ways to prevent money laundering and effectively regulate the industry.

Some issues in the bill are still being worked out such as how gaming proceeds will be taxed. There's also the issue of additional resources being needed for the proposed regulations to be enforced by the National Gambling Board.

The gambling industry has been waiting a long time for South Africa to get to this point. The industry was originally outlawed in 2004 to give the government more time to do research and to come up with effective licensing and regulation procedures.

While online sports betting was legalized in the nation, as long as it was done on sites located within the country, online poker and casinos have remained illegal while the government worked on regulation and licensing issues.

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