Debate on Online Casino Games Continues in South Africa

By Maria McCoyGoogle

In an attempt to nail down policy on online casino games, the South African Parliament's trade and industry committee has held regular discussions on the merits and demerits of legalizing online gaming and top rated online casino sites. The latest public hearing was held on March 2 and issues relating to money laundering, underage gambling and illegal gambling operations were discussed.

Currently, online gambling on the best online casino and poker web sites is outlawed as is placing bets on any top online casino sites located out of the country. In examination of the laws, a gambling review commission recently recommended that online gaming be regulated and taxed. Therefore the trade and industry committee has been tasked with determining if the recommendations can be adopted.

Joan Fubbs, Committee Chairman and Democratic Alliance MP Geordin Hill-Lewis both stated that online gaming already exists in South Africa and turning a blind eye to it will continue to allow the unregulated market to grow. Hill-Lewis went on to make the case that eradicating online casino games and no deposit casinos is impossible and as it stands, the country is not receiving any revenue from online casino games activity that is already occurring.

Arguing against legalization, Pieter Smit of the Financial Intelligence Centre discussed the risk of money laundering inherent in online gaming. He argued that online casino games sites could be used to transfer money from one person to another, which would be nearly impossible to monitor. Smit believes that if the law changes on online casino games, than operators should have to face regulation by the Financial Intelligence Centre.

Smit also warned that the country would need to invest in the proper technologies needed to identify customers and to prohibit unlicensed operators.

It is likely that the debate will continue in South Africa in the coming months as the committee plans to meet to flush out the issues more thoroughly. 

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