Online gambling illegal in South Africa: Supreme Court

Summary: Interactive gambling is deemed illegal by the Supreme Court of Appeals in South Africa until government finalises the regulations on interactive gambling that will allow online casinos to be granted licenses to operate legally.

Piggs Peak Casino has lost their appeal in the Bloemfontein Supreme Court of Appeals causing them to no longer accept bets from South Africa gamblers, the online casino is reporting on its website.

This comes after a long battle between Piggs Peak and South Africa’s gambling authorities that saw the National Gambling Board (NGB) issuing press statements warning South Africans not to gamble online.

“The only legally recognized activity via the internet in RSA is online betting within the racing and betting environment,” the NGB said in a statement issued on 18 February 2011.

“Anyone found guilty and liable under the Act shall be fined R10 million or 10 years imprisonment or both.”

Piggs Peak Supreme Court of Appeals notice
Piggs Peak Supreme Court of Appeals notice

End of the road… For now

Howard Berchowitz, managing director of Casino Enterprises, said that with this court ruling there are no avenues left for them to pursue.

“You may not play on an internet casino from South Africa,” Berchowitz said.

Lance Michalson
Lance Michalson

However, before the recent Supreme Court ruling, Lance Michalson of Michalsons Attorneys explained that the problem with online gambling is not that is illegal, but that it is impossible to get a license to run a legal online casino.

An amendment to South Africa’s gambling law is in the works, which will allow licenses to be issued to online casinos.

This National Gambling Amendment Act was signed into law in 2008 and is just waiting promulgation, Michalson said.

Berchowitz said that there have been committees looking into it, but added, “Your guess is as good as mine as to if or when licensing will happen.”

He said that subject to the terms of licensing, they (Casino Enterprises) would certainly consider an application.

When Michalson was asked about why the law hadn’t come in force yet, he said that he could only wager a guess: “I would suspect the government is waiting for the outcome of the appeal to the Piggs Peak Poker case as this could have a huge effect on how effective the amendment will be.”

With the appeal concluded it would seem that the ball is in government’s court.

We tried to contact the NGB by phone and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) by phone and e-mail, but neither were immediately available for comment.

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Online gambling illegal in South Africa: Supreme Court