Online Gambling in South Africa Growing Fast

Published Saturday, August 01, 2009 -

South Africa has been experiencing the new world of online gambling in recent months as the activity grows in popularity in the country. Advancements in technology and ingenuity especially among the youth of the Eastern Cape are allowing the everyday individual to access offshore casinos and poker rooms.

Online gambling is still illegal in South Africa although there is no enforcement of the laws currently in place. Regulators are trying to change the laws and make online gambling a legal activity for South Africans. The lawmakers are concerned that the process is taking too long and with that in an unregulated world there are developing problems associated with underage gambling and other related issues.

Executive Director of the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) in South Africa Professor Peter Collins, said, "In South Africa it is currently estimated that about a quarter of a million people regularly gamble online." he qualified this statement by adding, it was very difficult to calculate how many individuals participated in online gambling. The Professor heads up research on gambling at two university based centres, in South Africa and in the U.K.

Collins pointed out there has been a lot of growth in online gambling in the past few years, with the gambling industry in South Africa being home to as many as six million gamblers bringing in revenues of 20 billion R a year. It is estimated that online gambling makes up 7 percent of the total. Collins said, "It is much easier playing poker, which is a very popular form of internet gambling, online than organising a poker evening in person." adding that, "If you however ban something like this completely it will just drive it underground into the arms of organised crime." Underage gambling, is definitely becoming a problem due to the increase in young people having access to the web through their very sophisticated mobile phones.

The South African government last year legislated a new law that allows operators to provide online gambling provided they adhere to industry regulations. Collins mentioned that online gambling could become a threat to casinos. "If regulated properly, casinos could get a slice of the pie and add to their revenue and services." CEO of the Casino Association of SA (Casa) representing casinos across the country, Derek Auret, commented, Instead of regarding online gambling as a threat for existing casinos, Auret also said he saw it as an opportunity.

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