The National Gambling Board, South Africa’s watchdog, has once again counselled citizens against virtual betting of all kinds. This activity is still illegal, and the urgent recommendation comes at the tail-end of an increase in unregulated facilities offered by illicit operators. These traders manage the ruse by pretending to be internet cafés. The NGB has also been notified of a surge in SA nationals using their smartphones and tablets to bet and gamble.   

Bryan Arumugam, the spokesperson for the NGB, warned that internet cafés providing online gambling access are not licensed to do so. This means that anyone engaging in this activity is not properly protected. They are thus prey to their payments being declined and betting and game outcomes being tampered with. 

Arumugam stated that these operators simply vanish when authorities appear on the scene, leaving bettors and players high and dry. Whenever police raid their facilities, remote servers are used to shut systems down and conceal evidence of wrongdoing. The main targets for these illicit organisations are the unemployed and low-income members of society desperate for an additional source of income. 

Play at Brick-and-Mortar Establishments

Several forms of land-based gambling are totally legal, so players need not resort to breaking the law. The majority of the most popular casino games, Bingo, slots, and sports betting can all be participated in at many licensed venues across the country. 

All these forms of wagering require that operators obtain licenses from the necessary provincial authority. This means that players can be sure they’re not being cheated. 

South Africa has a fully developed, completely regulated land-based gambling industry which generated R30+ billion in 2019. This sector is also responsible for over 35 000 jobs for locals, and legal venues lose massive amounts of revenue due to their illegitimate counterparts. 

Online Gameplay Too Difficult to Police

The 2004 National Gambling Act is still in force despite various attempts to dislodge it. One notable move to update it was made by the Democratic Alliance in 2016 but this did not succeed. The bill ended up being rejected due to fear of the detrimental effect it would have on the general public. 

Arumugam explained that online gambling and betting is still outlawed because it’s so much more difficult to monitor and regulate. Brick-and-mortar venues already have the necessary controls in place and are more able to ensure players are of legal age and are not developing issues around gambling. 

Wagering online, however, is possible 24 hours a day and there is markedly less scrutiny as to who’s betting and when. Online gamblers additionally have recourse to using their credit cards to fund their games and bets and wagering on smart devices could interfere with their work responsibilities. 

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