A Cape Town-based gaming lawyer, Garron Whitesman asserts that lawmakers in South Africa have possibly reached a turning point with the controversial National Gambling Amendment Bill after a clamorous parliamentary hearing.
Whitesman in an interview said the latest version of the gambling bill was full of “flawed, unrealistic, and nonsensical policies.”
The bill proposes several changes in the gambling structure and regulations in South Africa which will impact online gambling and sports betting. This includes the repositioning of the National Gambling Board as South Africa’s gambling regulator.
The proposed amendments also include the National Lotteries Commission taking over the duties of regulating all wagers on the national lottery, foreign lottery, lottery results and sports pools. It also plans to ban dog racing bets and cut down on bingo licences and machines.
However, members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the opposition Democratic Alliance took a critical look at the content of the bill during its discussion in the South African Parliament last Wednesday. This posture has impressed several observers including Whitesman.
“Whilst it is still very early days in the process, it appears that a positive watershed moment may have been reached in policy as the position overtly adopted by the members of the Portfolio Committee was materially different to that adopted a number of years ago when the issue was previously considered,” he said.
“A much more realistic and sensible view seems to be being adopted by the parliamentarians ultimately responsible for the setting of gambling policy in South Africa.”
During the discussion, the parliamentarians deliberated on the opportunity presented to the country to set out the guideline and licencing of online gambling.
The gaming lawyer was very pleased with the visibly different posture adopted by ANC parliamentarians.
“[It’s] good plain common sense being applied to the favourability of a regulatory, rather than prohibitory, regime and their level of insight into the issue,” he said.
“I am very hopeful that this is the beginning of a meaningful and appropriate change that is very long overdue.”
Whitesman said time will tell if the current positive outlook can continue as the issue is subject to subsequent public hearings and comments before the Portfolio Committee.
“It seems that the tide has changed positively in favour of the creation of an appropriate regulatory regime, but time will tell whether this is indeed the case,” he said.