Illegal gamblers have lost their “unlawful” winnings of over R1 million to the state, the trade and industry (dti) department said on Saturday.
“In unprecedented court proceedings several illegal gamblers have had their unlawfully obtained gambling winnings confiscated and forfeited to the state. The unlawful winnings to the amount of approximately R1,250,000 were derived from illegal gambling activities, specifically online gambling,” the dti said in a statement.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies had previously cautioned that online gambling was illegal and if South African citizens participated in online gambling and they won, their winnings were the proceeds of an illegal activity and would therefore be confiscated and forfeited to the state.
“The National Gambling Board [NGB] is the national regulator in the gambling industry in South Africa and in terms of section 16 of the National Gambling Act, 2004 is obliged to investigate the circumstances of illegal gambling activities, including illegal online gambling. Upon determination of such illegal gambling activity it applies to the High Court for an order declaring that the unlawful winnings be forfeited to the state,” the dti said.
Davies had also expressed concern that online gambling could be used to launder money. It was on this basis that the banks continued to collaborate with the NGB to confiscate unlawful winnings.
NGB accounting officer Caroline Kongwa “emphasised that besides the forfeiture of unlawful winnings in favour of the state, the punters who partake in illegal gambling activities are liable for criminal prosecution”.
“The public is hereby cautioned to be wary of online gambling offerings, as online gambling is illegal in South Africa and thus anyone participating in any illegal online gambling activity would be unable to receive any winnings and would expose themselves to criminal prosecution,” the dti said.
Citizens caught gambling illegally or running an illegal gambling establishment, such as internet cafes providing illegal online gambling, would be targeted and would face criminal charges or a hefty fine to a maximum of R10 million or both.
“The NGB is encouraged by the judiciary system in considering gambling-related matters and in a related matter, the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, granted a court judgment in favour of a licenced gambling operator prohibiting an illegal gambling operator from offering illegal online gambling,” Kongwa said.
The NGB’s role and mandate was to protect the public. She appealed to the public to report websites advertising online gambling and establishments, especially those disguised as internet cafes, in South Africa offering online gambling and other illegal gambling activities to the public.
– African News Agency (ANA)