South Africa - National Gambling Act

CASINOS

Studies on the gambling industry in South Africa show that casinos have the highest employment rates as compared to other betting systems in the country. However, this betting sector faces a variety of challenges which require fixing so that it can continue employing a significant portion of the South African populace.

Challenges facing casinos

Ownership

Changes in the management and control of casinos for disadvantaged persons in the society are needed. There is need to ensure that ownership processes adhere to the stipulated government codes to allow the smooth transfer of such establishments.

Location issues

Owing to the destination approach put in place to regulate the location of casinos, owners might have a hard time finding a suitable place for their establishments. However, they are not permitted to locate their betting establishments in areas where minors can access them. They should not put up shop near residential areas too. These measures are in place to ensure that the socio-economic statuses of the South African people are not negatively affected.

With time, some casinos have moved closer to the restricted zones, and as such, the issue needs researching.

ATMs and restricted persons

The National Gambling Act stipulates that all ATMs must be installed at a distance no less than five meters from the gambling floor. This measure is a means of reducing the temptation of gamblers to gamble all their money away. With time, though casinos have adhered to the rule, most of the ATMs have been installed in a way that they are apparently visible from the gambling floor. This kind of proximity undermines the foundation of the policy.

Casinos also face an issue of laxity in their right of admission. Minors and other restricted persons are finding it more accessible to gain access to gambling floors, and this poses a problem to the social welfare of South African citizens.

Limited Payout Machines (LPMs)

These kinds of machines came about as a means of allowing slot machines to get placed outside casinos. The devices have a limit of five Rands per wager and a maximum of five hundred Rands in winnings. A licensed operator can only put up five such machines in an establishment. If one wishes to put up more than five slot machines, they must go through the regulatory board to get such a permit.

BINGO

The introduction of an electronic form of bingo required a change of regulations from the original rules which governed gambling in the country. Before the inception of the National Gambling Act, owners could not put slot machines on the outside of casinos. With the introduction of LPMs, slot machines on the outside became a norm. However, this change came with many restrictions regarding the placing of wagers, the number of devices that could be outside an establishment as well as how many winnings one could take home.

Challenges facing Bingo

EBTs

The LPMs came along with Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs) which were seen to be a technological advancement to the previous bingo games. However, other parties argued that EBTs should be considered to be slot machines and thus their uses should be as restricted the same way that slot machines are. They argued that EBTs should be limited to casinos, as is the case with LPMs.

The National Gambling Act defines bingo to be a game which gets played in whole or part by electronic means. This definition suggests that players will be involved in the matching of spaces for cards. With EBTs, the areas are matched by electronic means as the player only participates by pushing the start button and leaving the rest of the work to the machine.

When the issue of EBTs came before the court, the court ruled that because EBTs were not an interactive game, they would be considered to fall into the same category as slot machines. As such, EBTs should be limited to casinos.

Proliferation of bingo halls

With time, bingo halls have become quite common, and a lot of people are participating in the game. With the introduction of EBTs, getting access to a bingo game has become quite easy. There is a need for a policy to govern the number of licenses issued in provinces to ensure that owners adhere to guidelines and to safeguard the welfare of South African Citizens.

There is a need to ensure that EBTs do not pose a problem of unfair competition to the already existing forms of betting. A policy should be in place to regulate the number of machines per province, the location of these devices as well as their accessibility.

Location of bingo halls

The policy provides that bingo halls must not be near the catchment areas of casino establishments. This location factor is a measure in place to prevent unhealthy competition between different forms of betting.

There is a need for policy changes in the regulation of bingo and casinos. Such changes will enhance friendly competition, prevent adverse effects on the socio-economic statuses of the South African people and increase revenue collection.