A member of the Executive Council has renewed calls to legalise gambling across South Africa. The Eastern Cape MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said that the tax revenues earned from legalised gambling would mean that South Africa would greatly benefit from the relaxation of legislation.
Mvoko is currently serving as a member of the Executive Council for economic development in the Eastern Cape. He stated that new jobs and tax revenues were necessary to boost development in the province, and that legalising gambling could prove to be an efficient way of doing this.
The MEC stated that South Africa needed to change its attitudes towards gambling as the revenues earned could help to offset the ongoing economic crisis that has blighted the nation. Although industries like motor vehicle manufacturing and tourism have long been the mainstays of the Eastern Cape, they have not been immune from the global economic slowdown.
As a result, Mvoko stated that the Eastern Cape and the whole of South Africa would need to diversify its income streams to provide a more stable base for economic growth. He stated that alternative industries like legalised gambling could go a long way in helping the nation get back on track.
At the moment gambling in South Africa is heavily restricted with just a few casinos offering customers a legal way to bet on casino games. There are fewer restrictions in the online domain with licensed bookmakers like the ones on this page offering bonuses and odds for many sports betting markets. But when it comes to so-called interactive gaming like casino games, there are much stricter regulations.
Although gambling was legalised in 1994, there were regulations introduced in 1996 that required all casinos apply for licensing. There were also strict regulations implemented to cover sports betting for activities ranging from horse racing to cricket, football and rugby.
The arrival of online gambling led to the authorities implementing tough regulation that make it illegal for anybody to access a betting site unless they had a license that was issued by a provincial gambling board.
As a result it is now legal for South African’s to bet on sports on the nation’s licensed betting sites, whereas online casino sites are still prohibited. But Mvoko has stated that that the legislation needs to be brought up to date to ensure that casino games can be played online without the fear of fines or prison sentences.
Mvoko had previously been working as the acting education MEC, but he was appointed to his current position as the MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in May 2019. He was elected as an African National Congress deputy provincial chairman in 2018 and has already thrown his weight behind promising new initiatives such as a smart academy for the province’s automotive sector, as well as plans to look at liquefied natural gas and oil as alternatives to coal.
However, his plans to encourage the legalisation of gambling in South Africa will face much tougher opposition. There have been repeated efforts made to try and deregulate the nation’s gambling industry, but widespread opposition to such moves has stymied the progress. It is thought that South Africa’s existing physical casinos are largely behind such efforts to maintain the current status quo.
The announcement was made as Mvoko spoke at the recent Gaming Regulators Africa Forum. This meeting took place in Port Elizabeth at the Boardwalk Hotel, and it aimed to note the progress of economic changes across the world and how it affected the continent’s nascent gambling industry.
It was the fifteenth meeting of this regulatory body that saw representatives from a wide range of African nations that included Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland, Seychelles, Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana and Angola.
Mvoko stated that new gambling technologies could be harnessed through regulation and help the province see an increase in its revenue base. The politician also made an interesting comparison between Bitcoin and online gambling where he stated how the cryptocurrency offered a range of benefits for the user that are going to be hard to ignore in the future.
Above all, it’s the economic benefits of legalised gambling that formed the focus of Mvoko’s speech. He stated that an estimated R985 had been created in the past five years as a result of the province’s existing gambling industry. But if Mvoko’s recommendations were followed, it could bring about much needed tax revenues to the Eastern Cape and beyond.