How to spot illegal gambling operations

2018-05-17 06:01

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THE Casino Association of South Africa (“CASA”) is calling on South Africans to be wary of illegal gambling establishments and is urging the public to report any suspected illegal gambling operations.

CASA, which represents the interests of the country’s legal casino industry, as well as the public that the industry serves, warns that the scourge of illegal gambling operations is growing by the day. By raising awareness of how people can spot a casino that is operating without a licence, CASA aims to protect patrons and the legal gambling industry at large.

There are a number of clues that the public should look out for to determine whether an establishment is legal or not. As required by gambling legislation in all provinces in South Africa, a licensed establishment must prominently display the word “casino” on the exterior of the licensed premises where gambling takes place and the trading name must include the word “casino” at all times in all its communications.

In addition, a licensed casino must also display its casino licence in a conspicuous place on the licensed premises. If an establishment does not meet these requirements, it is operating without a licence and should be reported.

Not only do illegal gambling operations not take steps to provide a safe and secure environment for their customers but they also expose them to prosecution.

Online gambling, for example, is a fast-growing criminal industry yet the majority of the public is unaware that all online gambling is against the law in South Africa, even if the operator is based outside the country.

This leaves unwitting players open to criminal prosecution, where they could be liable to pay a fine of up to R10 million or receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years or both such fine and prison sentence.

Similarly, patrons of all forms of illegal gambling operations risk prosecution and exposure to such fine and prison sentence.

Often set up in shopping centres and masquerading as internet cafés or lounges, these operations include banks of touch screen computers running off software smuggled from abroad. Darkened windows and security checks at the door should set off alarm bells to property owners and customers.

The South African Police Service has conducted raids on these types of operations based on tip offs from the public, arresting players and operators.

Illegal gambling not only puts players at risk but negatively impacts the South African economy in general. The legal, regulated casinos that CASA represents contribute massively to the fiscus through a variety of taxes (36% of the value generated) and in the financial year ended March 2017, for the first time, casino gambling revenue dropped by almost 2%. This is largely attributable to illegal gambling and, ultimately, affects all South Africans.

  • To report a suspected illegal gambling establishment or casino, members of the public can contact the following provincial gambling boards: Eastern Cape: (043) 702 8300 or

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