Chief Director in the Consumer and Corporate Regulation Division of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), MacDonald Netshitenzhe, has said “we can stop online gambling – by banning the Internet”.
This is according to Ghaleb Cachalia, the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, who issued a statement to declare that the DA will not support the National Gambling Amendment Bill.
Netshitenzhe was the Chief Director of Policy and Legislation at the DTI, and Cachalia said he was “responsible for this mess in the first place”, referring to the bill.
“This amendment bill emanates from the flawed gambling policy of 2016 which believes, amongst other things, that online gambling should be banned.”
Cachalia also noted that the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, said “online gambling is strictly prohibited” and he wants tougher measures to be implemented to curb it.
Davies has proposed giving the National Gambling Board more powers to do so, and making it the industry regulator.
While he also proposed clamping down on advertising and unsolicited messages to entice vulnerable groups to gamble, Cachalia said that the biggest crackdown will be made on unlawful winnings via online gambling.
“If you go online, we may not be able to stop you when you play the game, but when you win, we get you,” Davies reportedly said.
The government will use the Financial Intelligence Centre, which will work with financial institutions, to verify and seize online winnings.
Cachalia said that the process to table the amendment bill was also unnecessarily hastened, resulting in shoddy legislation that will not stand up in court. The bill was introduced this year.
“The committee has not applied its mind, the provinces are opposed to this bill, and there will be legal challenges, which the DTI will lose hands down,” Cachalia predicted.
“In the end, this represents a fatal mistake to deal with legislation in a piecemeal approach.”
According to Cachalia, Davies’ broad policy direction, and his decisions over the last year, are deterring investment, damaging the South African economy, and costing jobs.
“Increasingly, the minister’s policy disposition is towards greater state control, greater punitive measures, wider ministerial powers, and heightened mistrust and antagonism of the business community,” stated Cachalia.
“This amendment bill is no exception.”