A gaming amendment bill which if actioned could bring forth a considerable shake up of the South African gaming environment has been been derided by some as a complete mess.
The tabling of a gaming amendment bill in South Africa has been derided by those in the industry as an ill-thought-out move that could put dampeners on the sector.
Tabled by the South African minister for trade and industry, Rob Davies, the 49-page amendment bill would see that National gaming board repositioned as a regulatory body with the same proposed for the National Lotteries Commission.
Such plans have appeared as a number of drafts since 2016 but this current iteration is the clearest indication yet that there may well be a whole-sale restructuring of the country’s market.
The news has not exactly been welcomed by all, with South African gaming lawyer, Garron Whitesman labelling the plans a “complete mess”.
He told press “My view is the bill is a complete mess and is based on very flawed, unrealistic and nonsensical policies that have been devised by the Department of Trade and Industry.”
Whilst it is clear that an increase in regulation in order to stamp out illegal practices is a positive move from a social stand-point increasing the burden on, and potentially limiting the output of, legitimate gaming businesses makes little to no fiscal sense.
The repositioning of regulation away from regional authorities and into centralised national bodies could see extra restrictions place on all aspects of the market, with gaming machines in casinos, LBOs and street-level LVTs potentially taking the largest hit.
“The biggest impact is on those bookmakers offering secondary lottery and betting on the out- come of lotteries type bets,” added Whitesman.
“These parties are licensed under provincial gambling legislation by the provincial gambling boards, but the oversight and licensing of such activities is sought under the bill to be transferred to the National Lotteries Commission. There are many unknowns in this regard. My view is that if the Bill becomes law in its current form, the operators affected thereby will take the matter to court.”
There had been hopes that as the nation enters into a new post-Zuma era there would be a relaxing of the government’s hardline stance on gambling but the latest amendment tablelling would appear to point in the opposite direction.
Land-based casino ventures and their wider impact on the tourism and leisure market are of crucial importance to the nation’s economic progress, especially at a time when it is beginning to show signs of recovery. Handing down restrictive regulations on legitimate business as part of a wider crackdown on illegal operations seems not only reductive but actively harmful to an industry that is already in the process of reorganisation and fiscal consolidation. Those in power in South Africa could do well to listen to the industries they may yet shackle.