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South Africa Bans Online Gambling With High Court Ruling

24 August 2010 by Devon Chappell

South Africa, you disappoint me. Beautiful plains of South Africa, oh how you disappoint me! Home of the World Cup, stage to end apartheid, oh how deeply you disappoint me!

In case you haven’t heard already, South Africa (which apparently looked as if it would become a promising jurisdiction to regulate online gambling) has done a complete turnaround, swinging 180 degrees in its 2007 policy toward internet betting by making it an illegal activity!

As per a high court judgment given by Judge NB Tuchten on Friday, August 20th, the law basically states that anybody who takes part in online gambling activities of any kind is guilty of breaking the law and will be prosecuted.

Not only does this apply to online casino operators and payment processors, the ruling specifically holds internet service providers and the bettors themselves responsible. And to make matters worse, the Gauteng Gambling Board (land-based casino interests…who else, right?) is shouting from the rooftops that it will legally pursue any individuals or companies attempting to bypass the law.

Granted, I don’t expect there to be any prosecutions against your average online bettors (at least, for the time being). High rollers may be another matter. However, just as it is in the United States, enforcement will likely only have enough resources to go after the operators themselves, i.e., offshore online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks and anybody else knowingly taking bets from South African citizens.

While I am very disappointed to hear this news (as is the online gambling community at large and no doubt  many South Africans), it seems as if this story is far from over. If one Judge’s ruling can effectively make a popular activity illegal, there need only to be another ruling to overturn the former. Just like gay marriage was made legal, illegal and legal again in the State of California, online gambling regulation will eventually happen in the United States, and for that matter, South Africa once more.

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4 Responses to “South Africa Bans Online Gambling With High Court Ruling”

  1. Jabu says:

    this fucking sucks. I don’t understand. What’s the difference between gambling at a casino and gambling in the comfort of your own home? Why ban the one and not ban the other?

  2. Helen says:

    Better regulating is definately the way forward, by trying to ban it all together surely they are taking revenue and jobs out of the country as well. People will always find a way if they want to use online gambling sites and casino slots online.

  3. Marais says:

    I think it is about time that drastic actions are taken to stop gambling in SA. If this decision made by the High Court will help South Africans get out of their financial crisis and in turn will make them stop gambling and stop chasing a dream to win big, then so be it. We as a nation will be far better off. I am currently writing a book about gambling and hope to publish soon as I am one of thousands of people who got addictive to this terrible game. Gambling is only to the benefit of others (the casino) and to the cost of our own families.

    • Devon says:

      Hi Marais, with all due respect to your experience and that of others, banning online gambling will not solve anything. Regulation, and stricter regulation if need be, is the answer to preventing problem gambling addictions. Offshore online casinos will still be out there accepting players from South Africa. The fact that actually playing at an online casino could result in pressing charges, will likely not deter the most determined of bettors. It’s not working the United States, and it won’t work in South Africa. In the UK, where online gambling was legalized in 2005 (as I’m sure you know having done research for your book), problem gambling cases have not risen for online gambling. However, in the brick ‘n mortar gambling world, there has been a slight increase in problem gambling (due to expanded casinos). This is interesting to note, for the land-based industry has long been against legalizing online gambling (unless, of course, they can monopolize it), and are generally behind – in one way or another – moves to resist online gambling regulation. I would be curious to know what the situation in South Africa is in regards to this?