Trade And Industry Committee Hears Inputs On Remote Gambling Bill

JUNE 25, 2015

The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry has been engaging on inputs on the Remote Gambling Bill, a Private Members' Bill as part of the process of  Public Hearings on the Bill which was introduced on 26 May this year by DA member, Geordin Hill-Lewis. The aim of the Bill is to legalise remote or Internet gambling.

Committee Chairperson, Joanmariae Fubbs, said the kind of society that government wanted to build has never changed.

“We are the custodians of the youth and have to ensure that they remain on the right track. There are certain things we do not want our children to be exposed to at a young age, before their values have been developed,” Fubbs said.

She added: “Alcohol and gambling are relevant to the maturity phase. They are good for you in moderation but excessive use is not good.”

Hill-Lewis argued that South Africa already considers gambling to be legal and remote gambling is a reasonable activity; therefore, it should not be criminalised. He proposed a limitlessnumber of licences to be available. Mr Hill-Lewis said he is concerned that South Africa was currently taking a legislative path that is “damaging”.  

He also emphasised that the Web could not be blocked for any length of time so prohibition would not work and therefore “regulation is more effective”. Another Committee member BonganiMkongi (ANC) emphasised the importance of the values in our society embraced in our Constitution which seek to guide our youth and to process legislation guided by policy.

The Department of Trade and Industry said in response that the Bill is not backed up by policy and that no regulatory impact study was done. The department also expressed concern that the Bill does not show how minors will be protected as there will be no human element to verify their age. The department has put great emphasis on the socio-economic impact of remote gambling as it could lead to further indebtedness and greater poverty.

The Committee will now await the finalisation of the National Gambling Policy which is currently in the governmental consultation process. Once this is approved by Cabinet, it will be referred to Parliament and the Committee will finalise its consideration of the Remote Gambling Bill.

Fubbs encouraged the Committee and the public to seriously interact with the policy proposals and make adequate contributions to it.