Thank you for inviting CASA to submit to your committee proposals which can advance the progress of the National Gambling Bill 2003. This is a constructive gesture, and one which we believe makes it possible to resolve a number of issues which currently compromise the otherwise worthwhile objectives of this important piece of legislation.
In so doing our proposals are also aimed at addressing your committee’s legitimate concerns about the poor and socially vulnerable, which we wholeheartedly share.
1. TO ADDRESS ISSUES RELATING TO THE POOR
The key issue relating to the poor and gambling is the need for extensive public education. CASA strongly supports the committee’s views in this regard, and proposes the following:
The formalisation of funding for national education programmes specifically aimed at the poor, senior citizens and adolescents. This it will do through the formal structures created and managed by the National Gambling Board, being the S A Advisory Council on Responsible Gambling (SAACREG), and its operational arm, being the S A Responsible Gambling Trust (SARGT)/the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP). All these structures are controlled by regulators.
The SAACREG sub-committee on finance has already agreed a funding formula whereby each and every gambling sector, including the National Lottery, will contribute to the SARGT on a proportional basis. CASA proposes that the Minister be given the authority to enforce compliance in the event any operator in any sector does not fulfill its existing or future agreed funding obligations.
Consistent with the spirit of both the 1996 Act and 2003 Bill, CASA recognises that limiting the supply of gambling in our society is necessary to minimise the social impact of gambling.
CASA therefore proposes that the maximum number of casino licences be frozen at the currently awarded number of 34 within their present locations, and provincial allocations (other than those applications for relocation currently under consideration by the PLAs concerned).
Similarly, it seems to us, that it would be injudicious at this time to contemplate introducing more gambling by way of LPMs, which are highly accessible, both in terms of location and price, to the poor.
1.3 Section 15
In order to address the committee’s concern over the social consequences of certain advertising and marketing practices, such as the bussing of senior citizens, CASA proposes that a national advertising code of conduct be developed for all sectors of the gambling industry, including the lottery, and be prescribed by the Minister by regulation under this Act and the Lotteries Act.
2.1 Section 17(2)
In order to encourage financial responsibility, CASA proposes that cash dispensing machines should be removed from the casino floor and be relocated to adjoining retail or entertainment areas, where applicable. The minimum distance of a cash dispensing machine from the casino floor should be imposed by the responsible Provincial Licensing Authority (PLA).
2.2 Section 13(1)(a)
Similarly, it is CASA’s proposal that casinos henceforth do not grant credit. The current practice of casinos accepting cheques should be changed to make it mandatory that all cheques are deposited within 7 days.
CASA shares your committee’s concerns in terms of this issue. CASA thus proposes that:
Where practically possible, as determined by PLAs, separate entrances should be created at existing operations for access by minors to family entertainment areas.
3.2 Section 17(1)
The provision regarding the proximity of licensed premises to schools should only be applicable to schools to be established after the commencement of the Act.
The provisions referred to in 3.1 and 3.2 above should also only apply to gambling premises whose licences are to be awarded after the commencement of the Act.
The casino sector has substantial broad based BEE commitments (equity, employment, procurement, training, management), which are entrenched in existing conditions of licence. These commitments are regularly audited by the PLAs and our members are already participating in an extensive audit being conducted by the National Gambling Board. These are being enforced by the PLAs.
The new Bill should practically address the issue of online gambling which is currently available to South African citizens. This would be welcomed by the South African Revenue Service and the Financial Intelligence Centre, and ensure that all providers of gambling services are subject to a "level playing field" in terms of licensing, probity, taxation and compliance.
CASA recognises the importance of this Bill to Government and wishes to reiterate its support for the principles and objectives which informed its development. As I stated in my presentation yesterday, we endorse and welcome a number of the proposals contained in this draft legislation.
However, as many of those who made written and verbal submissions indicated, in its current form the Bill has the potential to cause unintended economic, employment, political and social consequences, an outcome which is neither in the interest of Government, industry or the many affected stakeholders who have made these views known to your committee.
We are thankful for your invitation to participate further in the process of achieving resolution of these issues, and we commit ourselves to continue to play a constructive and positive role in the evolution of good public policy and good governance in respect of our industry.