BizNews published an article by Yves Wegter in the Daily Friend yesterday titled:DA becomes protectionist in interactive gambling.’ Prosecutor’s office Dean McPherson was mentioned in it, and he took exception to some of Wegter’s conclusions. We are publishing McPherson’s right of reply below.

Reply to Ivo Vegter

Dean McPherson*

The opinion of Yves Vegter “DProtectionist of interactive gambling“refers.

When I read Yves’ piece, I honestly thought I was reading a satirical piece published in the Everyday friend.

I must also say that I wonder how Ivo could write something about Bill, whom he has never seen or read. It is a great pity that he did not bother to ask me for the bill, which I suspect would have given him a fuller view of this important piece of legislation. Instead, by his own admission, he is relying on a published intention to introduce a private members’ bill, which is a prerequisite for the bill actually being introduced into Parliament.

It should be understood that this published intention is only a snapshot of the entire future bill. So, for the first time, someone is opining on the simple intent rather than the bill itself.

Some facts about online/interactive/remote gambling. It’s no secret that gambling is a very popular pastime in South Africa. Be it horse riding, sports, lotto or casino. The growth of online gambling has been astronomical, but it is still banned in the country. It’s laughable in 2022, but the government was determined to stamp it out, even once announcing that it would “ban the internet” if necessary.

This is obviously an undesirable situation as it does not give online players any of the rights and protections that land-based casino players have. Second, there is no way for provincial or national governments to profit from online gambling. And why not? If land-based casinos are taxpayers, surely online casinos must be taxpayers too? For some reason, he thinks that all this is not important.

Ivo simply argues that there should be no regulation, no taxes, and that online gambling should continue to exist in the shadows. This is not beneficial to anyone. Not players, not competitors, not the state and not for investment.

Online gambling is a multi-billion dollar business in South Africa that exists mostly outside the country. If we can encourage companies to set up shop in South Africa and make it a hub in Africa, then that would be good for the country, but they need a regulatory framework for that.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been told by many companies, especially those I’ve personally met at gaming conferences over the years.

Finally, Yves’ attempt to harpoon the DA and me by comparing me to Ebrahim Patel and promoting the ANC’s ideology is shallow because it is not born of reality. Patel’s department and the ANC were desperate to continue the ban on online gambling. Prosecutors and I are trying to bring this out of the dark and into the regulatory environment to make it legal.

So instead of “being on the side of the ANC on this issue”, the DA is completely on the opposite side. All of this would be available to Ivo if he just picked up the phone.

As my grandfather often said, “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” How true for Yves Wegter.

  • Dean Macpherson MP (Shadow Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition).

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