Rivalling Mississippi’s Bobby Moak in the perseverance stakes, South African MP and shadow minister for trade and industry Geordin Hill-Lewis is reportedly gearing up for his second or third attempt to persuade parliament that legalised online gambling would be a good thing.
The Democratic Alliance MP could face an uphill battle; earlier this week the Casino Association of South Africa complained that illegal online gambling was cannibalising land jobs and revenues (a contention contradicted by international experience), and the political establishment appears to have little appetite for the genre despite over a decade of back-and-forth debate and fact finding jollies (see previous reports).
As things stand at present, the government appears to be content to maintain the status quo, regarding all online gambling other than sports betting as illegal and undesirable.
Nevertheless, Hill-Lewis appears confident that he has drafted a regulation and licensing proposal that has a chance of success. This envisages oversight and authority apportioned to the National Gambling Board (recently the scene of alleged corruption and administrative chaos that saw the board suspended) in consultation with the gambling authorities in each of the nation’s nine provinces.
The new bill is set for introduction next (February) month when parliament re-opens, and Hill-Lewis is hoping that it will not again become mired in politics and partisan debate in the generally hostile Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.