Online gamblers in South Africa have had their winnings confiscated by authorities since they were won on illegal online gambling sites.
The seizure of the winnings comes after the country proposed the National Gambling Amendment bill last year. The bill amends the National Gambling Act 2004, keeping locally licensed sports books and race betting sites legal while making it harder to gamble at offshore online casinos.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced on Saturday it had confiscated around R1.25 million from gamblers after “unprecedented court proceedings” revealed the players won the “unlawful winnings” at foreign online casinos.
The DTI said this should be a warning to South Africans who gamble at online sites which are illegal in the country and added players would be “unable to receive their winnings and would expose themselves to criminal prosecution.”
This could be fines of up to R10 million.
Players have been warned before with DTI Minister Rob Davies telling South Africans last year that illegal online gambling winnings would be forfeited to the state.
The DTI has commented on the situation stating the National Gambling Board [NGB] regulated the South African gambling industry and “is obliged to investigate the circumstances of illegal gambling activities, including illegal online gambling.”
The DTI will likely enforce authorities to keep an eye on people in internet cafes while banks will cooperate with the gambling crackdown and seize the suspected Internet gambling winnings. The DTI is also attempting to remove the requirement to get a High Court order before illegal gambling winnings can be confiscated.
NGB’s accounting officer, Caroline Kongwa, said the regulator was “encouraged by the judiciary system in considering gambling-related manners.”
She “emphasised that besides the forfeiture of unlawful winnings in favour of the state, the punters who partake in illegal gambling activities are liable for criminal prosecution”.
Kongwa added, “the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, granted a court judgment in favour of a licensed gambling operator prohibiting an illegal gambling operator from offering illegal online gambling.”
South Africa’s National Gambling Amendment bill 2016
Online sports betting is legal in South Africa while online casino gambling is not. The DTI proposed the National Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 on September 17, last year to stop players who were continuing to gamble at offshore casino sites despite being illegal under the National Gambling Act 2004.
The bill was also created to stop the outflow of money from South Africans, with an average of R3000 spent monthly at these sites.
Among the number of changes proposed was the confiscation of winnings generated by playing at illegal sites, and it appears the DTI are now acting on the proposal.
While many legislators attempted to legalise online gambling by broadening the sports betting market to online casino products, their efforts fell on deaf ears.