South Africa on way to legalizing, regulating online gambling

The South African Department of Trade and Industry has submitted a draft amendment bill to the Cabinet that, if approved, will allow licensing of online casinos in the country.

The bill was drafted in response to a report conducted by the National Gambling Board which found that there is a need for licensing and regulating online gambling in South Africa where it is currently illegal. The bill will be available for viewing by the end of October, and it is hoped it will be passed by the end of the first quarter of 2007.

An online gambling community already exists and thrives in South Africa. According to government officials, the business was only made illegal in the country in order to give the government time to put effective regulation into place.

With the new bill, control systems to identify problem gambling, money laundering, or any other criminal activities will be provided for.

By regulating the industry, South Africa will be able to tap into the millions of dollars in tax revenue the industry generates. Some of the sites that already do business in South Africa spend millions of dollars to advertise in the country.

In 2005 brick-and-mortar casinos paid R2.1 billion in gaming taxes, 37% of which the government received.

Online sports betting is already legal in South Africa. For the past two years, it's been legal for people to place bets on sites located within the country. That business may also benefit from the legalization of other forms of online gambling as well.

Betting World, a South African sports betting site, pays R11 million in taxes a year to the South African government, and plans to offer online poker as well as sports betting once interactive gambling is legalized.

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