People have always liked to gamble irrespective of what the law says. They will continue to gamble even if a state or country bans the activity and declares it to be illegal and punishable by law. It is precisely for this reason that South Africa, which had banned all forms of gambling except betting on the horses, legalized it in 1996. The country finally realized that it still had 2000+ illegal gambling establishments although it had banned gambling.
Legalizing the gambling industry proved to be extremely beneficial in South Africa. Licensed online casinos in South Africa are now under the strict supervision of the National Gambling Board (NGB). Unlike the days in which the gambling industry was unregulated, the licensed and regulated casinos of today provide a safe and fair gambling environment to the customer, boost state revenue, and generate job opportunities for the local people.
Reluctance to Regulate Online Gambling
The Internet has given the brick-and-mortar gambling industry something that it never had before-the ability to reach out to international players. Online casinos do not cost much to maintain. In spite of their obvious benefits, several countries decided to ban online gambling because they perceived online casinos, especially offshore ones accepting their citizens, as threatening.
Online gambling is hardly new as it has been around for the last 20+ years. Among the first to understand the benefits of a regulated online gambling industry were Alderney and Malta, which lost no time in getting established as the world's top regulators of online gambling sites. Today, Malta licenses and regulates online poker, online bingo, online lottery, online casino, and online sports betting sites. Unlike Malta, countries such as the US dislike online gambling and have so far not created online gambling laws at the federal level. However, US states such as Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have legalized certain forms of online casino and reaped the benefits of doing so.
Those who do not support the regulation of online gambling claim that online gambling sites will cannibalize the existing brick-and-mortar gaming industry. But nothing can be farther from the truth. Far from cannibalizing existing land-based casinos, online casinos attract more customers and boost revenue.
For example, Caesars Interactive reported a sharp rise in the number of its customers after it launched online casinos in the newly regulated market of New Jersey. David Satz, the company's senior vice president (government relations), said that 80% of the players who registered at Caesars' new online casinos in New Jersey were brand new players who never used to visit its land-based casinos; 20% were active customers; and 42% were existing land-based casino customers who had been inactive throughout the previous 12 months.
Golden Nugget Casino also stated that 89% of those who registered at its online casino were brand new and only 8% had been active at its land-based casino during the last 12 months. In other words, 92% of the players who signed up at Golden Nugget's online casino were either brand new or inactive players. And the 8% active customers who had signed up for online play increased their land-based casino spending by 15%.
- Newly regulated online gambling markets have reported the following benefits:
- Regulated online gambling creates a new stream of revenue.
- Land-based casinos that launched online casinos reported an increase in the number of new customers.
- Inactive customers of land-based casinos became active online casino players.
- Active customers of land-based casinos did not stop visiting the land-based casino although they created accounts at the online casino.
The following are some of the other benefits of regulated online gambling:
Better Control over Problem Gambling
Regulated online gambling is better equipped to deal with problem gamblers. Licensed and regulated online casinos use the latest technology and present gambling management tools that help online players control their gambling activities. They encourage players to establish their own deposit limits, win/loss limits, and session limits. They enable players to take reality checks and give them complete access to their gaming and transaction histories. Players can take time-outs, breaks, or opt for self-exclusion. Regulated online casinos also partner with not-for-profit organizations such as GamCare, GambleAware, and Gamblers Anonymous that aim at assisting problem gamblers and gambling addicts.
Currently, players residing in countries that have not regulated online gambling (such as the US and South Africa) play at offshore online casinos. If South Africa, for example, legalizes online gambling, offshore online casinos will be required to get a South African gambling license to continue accepting South African players. Offshore operators licensed in South Africa will have to pay taxes to the South African government. Existing land-based casinos in South Africa would be able launch their own online casinos, thus creating more jobs, generating more revenue, and paying more taxes to the government. This would boost the country's economy in a big way.
Give Individuals the Right to Gamble
Regulating online gambling would be giving individual players the right to gamble in the comforts of their home in safe, secure, fair, and well-regulated environments. Individuals simply have the right to do what they like without any moral policing from the state. Legalizing online gambling would just give adults the chance to play their favorite games without the fear of being penalized and without the danger of being cheated by unregulated and unlicensed rogue casinos.
In the absence of regulation, players turn to unregulated sites that should not be trusted. Players are unable to distinguish between licensed offshore casinos that offer fair games in a secure gambling environment and rogue sites that are dressed up to resemble reputed ones. Rogue online casinos thrive in an unregulated environment. They are known to cheat players of their winnings and even sell their personal information and credit card details. Regulating online gambling will give players all the protection from rogue sites.
Need of the Hour in South Africa
Although smartphone and Internet usage is lesser in Africa when compared to wealthier nations, this state of affairs is expected to change soon. Smartphone and Internet use is expected to rise in Africa and soon the smartphone will be a major source of entertainment to African citizens. Many of them will prefer gambling on the move, which is why African countries, including South Africa, should make haste about legalizing and regulating the online gambling industry.
Regulation will protect the citizens, giving them access only to the best gambling companies in the industry and keeping out operators who don't have a good reputation. The fact that licensed and regulated operators have to comply with the country's gambling laws will further protect players. By regulating online gambling, the state can establish control over operators, keep an eye over them, and make sure that they comply with the laws and pay their taxes. Regulation will also go a long way in detecting, controlling, and treating problem gambling and addiction to gambling.
State of Online Gambling In South Africa.