South Africa bans online gaming

While most of European jurisdictions are waking up to the reality that nothing can stop the internet gaming¸ it transpires that a South African judge has just outlawed the sector. As a result¸ it is an offence for Internet service providers (ISPs) to facilitate online gambling¸ and for the media to run advertisements promoting internet gaming. In addition¸ banks cannot aid people in gambling online. Bets¸ however¸ taken on real-time games that take place in physical¸ licensed locations outside the cyber world are legal. By contrast in Europe we see how France¸ Spain¸ UK¸ Italy and Denmark have been falling heads over heels to fine tuning their licensing laws to liberalise the industry. Obviously recession helps gravitate in exchequer’s minds that gambling leads to high taxation. This liberalisation also recognises the fact that the online gaming takes place on the internet¸ a virtual device that knows no national boundaries¸ thus operating easily across many jurisdictions. Unlike brick-and-mortar operations¸ online casinos are able to enter new markets without establishing a physical presence. It is an enigma that the Bush administration has in 2006 imposed a ban. Where does this leave Malta as the premium hub in Europe with over 300 licenses active in the remote gaming arena? As published elsewhere in the media I wrote that the situation harkens us to be more dynamic and offer better competitive terms not only to attract new applications but at best to maintain the licensees that are currently laying the golden eggs. It is true that the industry is not high in the pecking order of the present government since it is hardly mentioned in its PR statements.

But again we must be vigilant .It is true that a cautious and low key approach is proving somewhat beneficial at Brussels political level so as not to flutter feathers. Competition is stiffening at our doorsteps and more resources will be needed to provide a better protection from our European countries who now join the list of licensing jurisdictions opening the gates to operators to access their markets (something we cannot match) Back to South Africa (SA) and online gambling has been declared illegal by a recent ruling in the North Gauteng High Court¸ putting an end to years of arguments around disputing where technically the gambling takes place and whether it would be considered legal if servers hosted outside of SA. It follows that internet gambling is now illegal¸ because the National Gambling Act of 2004 does not make provision for it. The Northern Gauteng High Court dismissed the application of Piggs Peak Casino¸ which operates and is licensed in terms of Swaziland laws.

Piggs Peak’s application sought for the court to declare that it lawfully advertises in SA as a licensed entity. As can be expected adherents to this industry have pleaded that SA regulations cannot ban offshore sites. Arguments such as these are now facing a brick wall while they have been winding their way through the legal system for some time. To quote one case that of Casino Enterprises¸ in Swaziland¸ the operators took the Gauteng Gambling Board to court in 2006¸ after the board put a stop to it advertising its online gambling service in the province. In the recent ruling of Piggs Peak V GGB¸ the regulator argued that gambling did not take place outside of SA¸ but rather where the person doing the gambling was situated. After the judgment¸ it instantly issued a statement on its website saying it is unlawful for Internet operators to offer online gambling to South African residents. Moreover¸ says the board¸ it is illegal for people to