South Africa losing out on billions in online gambling taxes

South Africa is sacrificing jobs and billions of rands in tax revenue because government refuses to legalise online gambling, Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dean Macpherson says.

While online gambling remains unlawful in South Africa, online sports betting with fixed odds is legal. Companies like Betway, Hollywoodbets and Sportingbet have grown so successful they are sponsoring South African national and provincial sports teams to the tune of tens of millions of rands.

This is the second time the DA will try to introduce legislation to regulate online gambling in South Africa. The first attempt was spearheaded in 2015 by Geordin Hill-Lewis, who now serves as Cape Town mayor. However, that Remote Gambling Bill was ultimately rejected in the national assembly.

One MP criticised the DA’s bill as an attempt to take food away from families. Another said it would increase white-collar crime.

City Press reports that Macpherson believes their new Remote Gambling Bill has enough support this time. Macpherson said provincial gambling councils changed their views about online gambling when they realised how much revenue it could generate if it were legalised.

The paper reported that some provinces have already started issuing licences on their own. The report explained that the new law would require public consultation, after which the Speaker of the National Assembly will refer it to parliamentary portfolio committees for further consideration.

The DA published its updated Remote Gambling Bill in September 2022 for public comment.

It explained that President Thabo Mbeki assented to the the National Gambling Amendment Act on 10 July 2008. The purpose of the Amendment Act was to provide for the regulation of interactive gambling.

However, the act has not been brought into operation by the President and, as such, interactive and online gambling is currently not regulated in South Africa.

“By not regulating this gambling activity, the erosion of the rule of law and criminal activity is being encouraged, while the public is not effectively protected,” – the Macpherson stated.

Concurrently, a lack of regulation is resulting in revenue and jobs being lost to other gambling jurisdictions.

“The purpose of the Remote Gambling Bill is thus to fill the gap in law relating to interactive gambling. The Bill addresses the issues faced by the Amendment Act which is one of the reasons why it was never brought into effect,” – he said

The Remote Gambling Bill also aims to provide for the following:

  • Regulating the issuing of licenses to be controlled by the relevant provincial authorities;
  • Provide for procedures relating to objections from issuing of licenses;
  • Regulating advertising of interactive and online gambling entities;
  • Provide for the protection of minors and vulnerable persons;
  • Ensure that there is compliance with FICA.

Effectively, the Remote Gambling Bill will allow government to track down illegal gambling sites and force them to pay tax in South Africa, the DA said.


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