Online gambling in disarray after ban

Johannesburg – Gambling groups are uncertain about the impact of the Gauteng Gambling Board's move to effectively ban online platforms, but for now it looks like operators not registered in South Africa will be hardest hit.
 
This follows an announcement by the board last week that those involved in promoting, transacting or operating an online platform would feel the full weight of the law.

Regulators are apparently zeroing in on many operators based outside South Africa which are targeting local punters. These include casino and lottery operators in Swaziland and Europe, whose clients move money into offshore accounts without complying with foreign exchange regulations.

Brent Graham, who operates the Good For The Game online sports betting news portal, told Fin24.com there had been a great deal of uncertainty in the market following the announcement last week. This included the sports betting industry.
 
"As I understand it, this won't affect bookmakers with local licences taking online sports bets," he said.
 
Graham pointed out that bookmakers offering online sports betting had to comply with strict regulations from their local gambling boards, including what software they use. This was conditional to licences being issued. Licences are still being granted.
 
The National Gambling Board stated: "South African gamblers shall be held liable for their gambling activities in cyberspace even if the web server is located offshore.

"Banking institutions' credit and debit cards should not be used for the payment of any gambling transactions that are illegal, and the banks reserve the right to decline processing or paying any card transactions which are suspected to be illegal gambling transactions (to the exclusion of sports betting/online bookmaking)."
 
However, online casino Piggs Peak is not bowing to pressure. The company says that issue is being taken on appeal in the Pretoria High Court. When Fin24.com approached a service consultant on the site to open an account, they indicated that they were still open for business and taking new accounts.
 
In a message to clients on Tuesday Lew Saul Koor, operations director at Piggs Peak, said: "On consultation with our senior legal council, they agree that we should appeal this finding which we believe is totally incorrect. Until the appeal has been heard and the outcome determined, our business will continue as usual as agreed with the gambling boards."

Active policing, says the board
 
Fin24.com approached a support consultant at African Palace casino - which is owned by First Grand Gaming and based in Curacao - to find out if it was still opening accounts. The consultant requested Fin24.com to send an email to its support centre. The query remained unanswered.
 
It is not just the operators who could find themselves in hot water.

The National Gambling Board warned publishers who promote online gambling products that "much of the advertisements of internet gambling in South Africa are subject to prosecution, and the National Gambling Board will be prosecuting any advertising media and other transgressors who continue to act contrary to the laws of the Republic.

"All advertising media that continue to facilitate the offering of internet gambling activities in South Africa are deemed to be aiding and abetting unlawful, illegal gambling activities and shall be prosecuted and fined for up to R10m or 10 years' imprisonment."
 
Banks also appear not to be taking any chances on other forms of online gaming, including lottery tickets and sports betting. Fin24.com users have reported that banks, including Standard and Investec, have warned them in correspondence not to use credit or debit cards to buy these tickets.

According to the Gauteng Gambling Board the industry is actively policed, with high levels of convictions of illegal operators.
 
In Gauteng there have been 462 convictions for illegal gambling activity since 2001, including 33 this year. There are 438 cases pending. There have also been 34 raids on illegal operations in South Africa in 2010.
 
- Fin24.com
 
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