South African casinos want gambling bill research on taxes to be charged

The Casino Association of South Africa (Casa) called on the Gauteng legislature’s economic affairs committee to take back to the drawing board the National Gambling Amendment Bill, saying it required more research on the nature of taxes that could be charged to institutions operating internet gambling.

The roadshow for submissions on the bill is nearing an end and casino licence holders are putting pressure on the provincial legislatures to grant them automatic licences to operate internet gambling. Their attempt failed in the National Assembly, which decided against their request before sending the bill to the provinces for further scrutiny.

The aims of the bill are to eliminate illegal interactive gambling, protect players, curb underage gambling and provide effective and transparent gambling. In a written submission, Casa CE Derek Auret said there were issues in the bill that required debate and provinces would make a considerable contribution in dealing with them.

Auret said Casa would have preferred that interactive gambling be dealt with in a form of separate legislation rather than amending the existing act. He said that there were many deficiencies in the bill, which did not say how much tax interactive gambling operators would pay.

“To ensure consistency and fairness, ‘pure’ interactive operators must pay a rate of tax no less than those paid by land-based casinos and other sectors of SA’s gambling industry.”

He said higher or lower tax rates might result in a loss to the fiscus. “In addition the return to the fiscus will be determined by the size of the market for this particular form of gambling.”

The gambling industry in South Africa contributes USD 2.1 billion a year to the economy. In nine years, the industry has created almost 100000 jobs. Auret said interactive gambling would not have an affect on the amount the industry contributed to the economy.

The bill states that interactive gambling should form part of the broad policy for the regulation of all forms of gambling and be regulated by the National Gambling Board. It says interactive gambling licences will be issued by the board. Casino licences are now issued by provinces.

It also makes advertising and promotion of interactive gambling unlawful. “Any person who provides advertising facilities to such offshore operators will be committing an offence. The prohibition of advertising in all forms of gambling will be revisited.”

Casa and the Gauteng Gambling Board opposed the issuing of licences by the national board and the prohibition of advertising. Inconsistency and ambiguity would be created by granting the national board licensing powers, they said in a written submission.