Gambling is a major part of the South African way of having fun, as the activity contributes to its economy. The fun activity usually draws the attention and patronage of people from different social and cultural leanings. With the massive popularity of online betting, gambling only keeps increasing in leaps and bounds.
Following the legalization of regulated gambling in 1996, the industry has developed; but also engendered mixed feelings in people, especially experts. Some new heights in technology coupled with the growth of online gambling have resulted in issues for some people. These are mostly consequences they have suffered by engaging in either legal or illegal gambling.
To this end, concerns about the economic and psychological consequences of gambling, especially the vulnerable, remain strife since the industry’s boom. This has had many people questioning the manner in which operators in South Africa comply with extant laws and their control. Questions around the extent of gambling laws, regulatory framework, and the control of abuse – have remained significant as well.
Revelations on South Africa’s Gambling Monopoly
An online gaming magazine in Africa, Gaming for Africa, has done research to understand the ownership of land-based casinos in South Africa. Its publication titled: Measuring Concentration and Participation in the South African Economy, has shown the inefficiency of licensing regimes. Specifically, the regimes have failed to spread ownership of such casinos across the industry.
Instead, it is concentrated in a select few entities dominating the entire land-based segment. The research shows that 69.5% of the 144 sectors reviewed were in the control of the same entities. Several regulated gambling businesses are products of mergers and acquisitions that only keep furthering the monopoly.
Also, the sale of Crazy Slots to Gold Rush in 2016 has helped the company’s position in the LPM sector. The publication notes that three entities: Sun International, Gold Rush, and HCI/Tsogo Sun have vast ownership of the segment. Particularly, Sun International and Tsogo Sun have significant interest in more than 80% of such casinos. With the help of licenses and mergers, 77.5% of fixed payout machines are in their control.
A Look at the Industry
Following the regulation of the industry, gambling has become a genuine, massive industry. The 2019-2020 financial year saw the industry generate R33 billion ($2.2 billion) at national and provincial levels. This made gambling the second-biggest source of “own revenues” for governments at the regional level.
In a similar light, the industry generated R1.4 billion for social causes and created massive employment. Speaking of job opportunities, the industry boasts over 60,000 active jobs for South Africans. The online and offline casino segment has over 51,317 job opportunities. The general gross gaming revenue of South Africa was projected to reach $2.5 billion in 2021.