Despite the landmark South African supreme court ruling against Piggs Peak Casino in 2012, a number of international casino operators still persist in marketing their services to players wanting to gamble in South African rands. Whilst there is likely argument – a legally unsound one in fact, that these online casinos aim to cater for non-South African residents who fall under an alternative jurisdiction, the fact that the transactions are taking place using South African currency (and most probably through the South African financial system) make them suspect.
One of the biggest challenges in monitoring and controlling illicit online casino activity – both in South Africa and abroad, is law enforcement and national priority. Developing countries usually face a barrage of social issues including violent crime, rape and entrenched corruption and South Africa is no exception to this. In fact, with the recent bombardment of news about crime in South Africa, it is easy to infer why prosecution in the online gambling space has not been actively pursued, bar the Piggs Peak case. While the legal threat clearly exists, there is yet to be an established case against South African gamblers themselves.
The irony of the situation is that many South Africans find themselves attracted to land-based casinos in the country, largely because of the perceived safety and alternative entertainment opportunities they can find in a relatively secure location. Since these casinos are properly regulated and licensed by the state, players are free from risk of litigation and their winnings may be appropriated to their local bank accounts without any issue. Still, the convenience of gambling online for real money proves very enticing for many South African players, despite the risks which are often perceived not to have any credibility.
Unlike markets likes India, which face similar legislative challenges, the South African online casino market is actually a very lucrative one for the online gaming operators themselves. Along with Australians, South Africans represent some of the highest value online gambling players in the world. Even though funding online casino accounts can sometimes be challenging using South African credit cards or bank accounts, there is no shortage of e-wallet type options like MoneyBookers and NETeller that are easily accessible for local players.
So with few entry barriers, high value customers and a comparatively low risk of prosecution, international online gaming operators are unlikely to stop targeting the online casino South Africa market. If the South African government were wise, they would be best off implementing and enforcing online gambling regulation as soon as possible. Not only will it serve to control the online gambling and sports betting space, it is sure to generate significant tax revenue from licensing fees, online casino and personal player taxation on winnings. Until then, South African players will likely continue to flout the gambling law on the host of choices they have available to them.
With the shutting down of Piggs Peak to South African players, below is a sample of the more well-established international casinos that cater for online gambling in Rands that have happily taken on the local market demand:
If you have any doubt that this is just a small sample, you check out a more comprehensive directory of South African online casinos to see the full extent of what is available. Clearly the demand is there and is being amply met – the South African government had better get a move on with formal regulation with respect to making online casinos in South Africa legal and taxable… there is tons of money on the table for them.