SA’s gambling plan globally the best

Cape Town - South Africa’s national responsible gambling programme has been held up as the global leader for promoting responsible gambling and enjoys a high degree of credibility throughout the world for the effectiveness and cost efficiency of its programme.

Following international research of worldwide responsible gambling activities by respected Toronto-based global reputation research experts GlobeScan, much of the programme's success was attributed to sound and coherent strategic planning at inception, the collaborative nature of all stakeholder relationships and the success of its public awareness programme.

The work being undertaken by the programme in terms of promoting responsible gambling is being studied by industry professionals and regulators worldwide and its structure and workings are viewed as a model to be emulated internationally.

The scope of the research included not only reputation measurement, but also assessed the work being undertaken to minimise the effect of excessive gambling.

To do the comparison, GlobeScan compared SA's programme against similar projects in the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden.

Favourable findings about the programme include:

>The absence of conflict between industry, regulators and government in South Africa is positive;

>The relationship between role players was found to be on a par and even better than in other countries;

>The collaborative relationship between the public and private sectors was particularly lauded.

South Africa's programme, while being more effective, also offers the most cost-effective option.

According to the report, South Africa spends R20m a year in comparison to R181m in New Zealand; R75m in Britain and a hefty R854m in Canada.

In return, SA’s responsible gambling provides a comprehensive programme of treatment, prevention, training, a national schools programme and research.

Britain was found to deliver fewer services, engages in very little prevention and public awareness and funds very little research that could be used to formulate appropriate preventative strategies or good public policy.

In their assessment of media coverage, GlobeScan found South Africa accounted for only 1% of all stories worldwide, with the majority of these being positive about the industry, regulators and the gambling programme.

By comparison, international coverage is predominantly negative of regulators and industry, most notably in Britain, as well as New Zealand and parts of Canada.

However, the report also cautions that there is a potential weakness in relation to addressing issues of internet and social media gambling.

SA’s gambling programme chairperson, Dr Vincent Maphai, said potential problems that could result from internet or social media gambling in the country were being researched and the programme  would formulate strategies for education and treatment in the near future.

(Foreign exchange quotes have been calculated from US dollars to the rand at the exchange rate of R10/US$1.)

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