Mixed responses to legalising online gambling

Johannesburg - Fin24 readers are divided on whether online gambling should be legalised in South Africa.

On Monday, Fin24 reported that the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) plans to oppose a Democratic Alliance (DA) authored bill that seeks to legalise online gambling in South Africa.

Online gambling is illegal in South Africa as operators and participants risk facing R10m fines, ten year jail sentences or both, according to the dti.

Arguments for legalising online gambling include generating greater tax revenue, creating jobs and protecting those who engage in the activity with regulation.

But the dti and the National Gambling Board (NGB) oppose online gambling because they say “there are a number of social ills associated with gambling, especially online gambling which occurs in unregulated and unsupervised locations”.

And Fin24 readers are also divided on the issue.

Fin24 user Craig Taylor said:

“There is no way that online gambling should be allowed, this is a dangerous and addictive pastime with the gamblers being taken advantage of by the casino owners or online offering. The reality is that the online casinos set the rules hugely in their favour and almost legally rob people of their money... . This is a great example of where the consumer needs protection.”

Another Fin24 user Cindi Liebenberg wrote:

“I think it should be our own choice just like, drinking, smoking or going to a land based casino.”

Ruan Botha said “definitely NO to online gambling” while Chris Botes also told Fin24: “No to online gambling”.

However, Shaun Gillham said that people should be allowed the choice to take part in online gambling if they so wish:

“While I don't personally gamble, I am certainly in favour of allowing online and most other forms of gambling. And yes, while much of South Africa is still third world and classed as a ‘developing’ nation, I will never be in favour of a Nanny State which dictates what members of that state can or cannot do with their own bodies, money and lives, etc. (The overriding proviso being that any individual's actions do not negatively impact on others). As for the state and its arms such as gambling authorities, I more than sense that their aversion to online gambling has much more to do with finance and tax revenue than social concerns... . The government does not feed or clothe me and in fact has done nothing but take from me and millions of others - yet they would like to tell me how to spend the little money I have left after they have taken all their taxes.”

And lastly, Carel Laubscher had this to say about online gambling.

“Online gambling makes more sense than going to a casino. Times are changing and the fact that there is a gambling ‘place’ of bricks and mortar is outdated. Modern times ask for modern ways of doing things. I do as much stuff online as I can and my life is lot simpler. From getting new insurance to shopping. The profile of the online gambler is in my view a lot different from the person going to the casino. Online gamblers want a quick and dirty and then move on to doing something else.The compulsive weekly wage gambler will still gamble irrespective of whether it is online or in the casino. Why not give them more choice to do so.”

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