Online Poker South Africa is Perceived as Illegal. According to a report written by David and published in the pokernewsreport.com publication, subsequent events have resulted in online poker being perceived as illegal. In 2011, the DTI and National Gambling Board successfully prosecuted the Piggs Peak Casino for offering online casino games. This was despite gaming servers being located in neighbouring Swaziland. In 2015, a Task Force was set up to close down 2,000 illegally-operating online casinos. In 2016, an amendment was passed allowing regulators to seize “unlawful winnings” paid into South African financial institutions.
Changes with the New Amendment
Much of the new amendment is unrelated to online gambling. The bulk of it concerns stricter regulation of brick-and-mortar casinos, the prohibition of dog racing, and the self-regulation of the horseracing industry. However, there are a couple of lines that will cause concern to online gamblers still playing online poker. The key line is to provide for the procedure for the forfeiture of unlawful winnings to the National Gambling Regulator.
What this implies is more resources will be pumped into tracking payments associated with online gambling. Under the existing law, a list of sites known to operating “illegally” was distributed to South African financial institutions. The financial institutions had the responsibility to block transactions and report them to the DTI. There is no way of telling how efficient this process has been. It could be the case a blind eye is turned, or every South African online poker player is now using Bitcoin.
What will Amendment Mean to Online Poker Players
The consequence of the new amendment, if passed, will be to drive online poker further underground. Those who don´t invest in cryptocurrencies are more likely to have their winnings confiscated, and players might possibly be charged with conducting a criminal activity – which could affect their livelihoods or future career prospects if the prosecutions are successful. It has been estimated that 250,000 South Africans gamble “illegally” at unlicensed sites – many of which advertise openly.
There is a movement to regulate and tax online gambling similar to how it’s done in the United States on a state-by-state basis. However, this will require the rolling back of some of the federal laws which looks unlikely at present. With tougher enforcement of South Africa´s anti online poker laws planned, regulated online poker looks further away than ever.