NGB Goes Up Against Online Casinos & Cryptocurrency
In South Africa, online casinos are still causing the National Gambling Board headaches, and emerging crypto-currencies are just adding fuel to the fire says Caroline Kongwa. Kongwa is the NGB Accounting Authority, and she made this statement over the course of a two-day conference in Pretoria, Gauteng, over the 18th and 19th of July.
The issue has seen the NGB and South African Police Service raiding illegal online casinos, with the Department of Trade and Industry confiscating R1.25 million worth of winnings in 2017. The board has revealed that illegal online activities are eroding revenue generated by the legal betting industry. It noted that operators are creating games that compete with what has traditionally been offered, and this has had a detrimental impact on formal betting.
Kongwa stated that this impacts the government’s tax revenue ultimately, which then results in a loss of employment opportunities, a decrease in local economic activity, and consumer rights and protections being eroded.
International Operators are Problematic
Online gambling includes Poker games, traditional casino games like Roulette and Blackjack, and sports betting, and these options have been available since 1994. Although many countries restrict online betting or ban it altogether, it has been legalised in certain Canadian provinces, the majority of the European Union, and several Caribbean nations.
Kongwa revealed that online operators continue to offer their services in South Africa despite not being strictly legal. The only lawful route for South Africans is betting through licensed bookmakers who have the proper permits to offer wagering on sports events and horse races. Citizens are not able to gamble with unlicensed international operators.
Serious Consequences for Law-Breakers
Presently, the gambling industry, except the National Lottery but including other lotteries like society lotteries, promotional competitions and sports pools, is under the regulation of the NGB. It is also subject to the 2004 National Gambling Act. Kongwa said that, in light of online gambling being illegal in South Africa, operators face severe consequences if they’re caught offering unlawful games, and gamblers could see their winnings being confiscated entirely.
Kongwa went on to say the gamblers could also face prosecution for taking part in illegal activities. She went on to say that the Department of Trade and Industry took the National Gambling Amendment Bill to parliament in 2018, and this recommended no new forms of betting be allowed. It also included several improved provisions regarding legislation to deal properly with illegal gambling.
The proposed bill suggested provisions should be included which forbid illegal winnings, along with amendments to ban Internet service providers, banks, and other payment facilitators from smoothing the way for unlawful activities to occur. This bill would also cover the transferal, payment, and promotion of payment of illegal winnings to South Africans.
This prohibition will require extreme vigilance by the NGB in terms of alerting various institutions to illegal operations. If this notification fails to be implemented, the affected body or institution will be criminally liable in terms of the Act, and any winnings could be added to the Unlawful Winnings Trust.