South Africa’s National Gambling Board suffered at the hands of South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies recently when it was announced it was to be suspended.
In September, announcements on the Eyewitness News website revealed that the board would be suspended pending the outcome of a ‘forensic investigation’, which at the time, could not be clarified due to its potential impact on an upcoming court case.
A spokesperson for the Trade and Industry board, Sidwell Medupe, said in September: “The forensic investigation will mainly cover the assess of the National Gambling Board and the minister has also appointed two administrators to oversee the day to day activities. We are unable to say how long this will take.”
Now, one month later, the reasons behind the board’s suspension have finally been revealed. After a drawn-out investigation, it has now come to the public’s attention that members of the board were suspended under allegations of “maladministration, wasteful spending and corrupt activities.”
Minister Rob Davies gave these reasons in a written submission to Parliament’s trade and industry portfolio committee, as requested by Chairwoman Joan Fubbs, on 17th October. He noted that the suspensions were “precautionary” and also followed allegations which came from the Auditor General in the National Gambling Board’s 2013/14 annual report.
The report claimed that the board contravened the Public Finance Management Act through “failure to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and making overdraft on the entity’s bank account without the approval of the Minister of Finance.”
It was also alleged that the board’s accounting authority contravened the National Gambling Act by allowing members whose term of office has expired to continue participating in the board’s activities and representing the National Gambling Board.
Gambling has often been the subject of controversy in South Africa and is susceptible to legal loopholes. For example, under the No. Section 11 of the National Gambling Act, online gambling is not legal unless it is authorised in terms of the act or any other national law, so if a player finds something they like through a trusted affiliate site, for example, this may well not incur any penalties.
Land-based casinos have also had their fair share of bad press recently. Members of the public have voiced their concerns over the proposed expansion of the Suncoast Casino, which would include 900 gaming machines and 16 new tables.
With a backlash from the public however, and the recent allegations against the National Gambling Board, developers may have to think twice before making any commitments.