SA online gambling bill moves forward

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The South African bill to legalize and regulate online gambling saw some movement again last week, taking another step toward passing into law.

According to Johannesburg's The Times, the bill relating to Internet gambling went to the Select Committee of National Provinces on Wednesday. Once the committee is done with it, it will be tabled in the National Assembly for final approval.

Currently online gambling in South Africa is illegal. The government put a law in place making it illegal until it had a chance to set up a system to regulate the industry to better protect consumers in South Africa.

Themba Marasha, chief operations officer of the National Gambling Board, said in The Times that because there is currently no protection for online gambling consumers in South Africa, they have no way to make a claim against on online gambling site if something should go wrong.

Let alone having no recourse for their concerns, such players could even be arrested for engaging in an illegal activity were they to publicize their plight, according to Marasha.

The bill waiting for approval will set up a system to license Internet gambling sites and provide regulations so South African citizens will be able to play within a protected environment.

The Department of Trade and Industry said its goal for the bill is to protect players, ensure gambling revenues are properly taxed, retain interactive gambling players in South Africa and keep children away from the sites.

The bill to set up the regulations has been in the works for more than a year now and was drafted in response to a report conducted by the National Gambling Board which found that there is a need for licensing and regulation online gambling in South Africa.

Initially it was hoped the bill would be passed by the end of the first quarter of 2007.

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