The Eastern Cape is now, after Gauteng, the second fastest growing gambling market in South Africa. Zwane says the growth of the industry also places a responsibility on the industry to promote responsible gambling practices particularly over the festive period.
Gambling regulator, the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board (ECGBB) says total provincial gross gaming revenue (GGR) has grown from R931.9 million in the last five years to R1.5 billion in the 2013/14 financial year.
Announcing the regulator’s 2013/14 performance results as well as the launch of ECGBB’s festive season responsible gambling campaign, chief executive officer Mabutho Zwane says the steady growth in total gaming revenue year-on-year has allowed the Board to boost its contribution to the provincial fiscus from ambling and betting taxes.
“ECGBB’s contribution to the provincial fiscus in gambling and betting taxes, fees and interest collected grew to R124 million (against a budgeted R119 million), compared to R89 million five years ago. Significantly, the Board has received its 14th unqualified audit opinion for the 2013/2014 financial year.
“In tough economic times, we are proud to say the Eastern Cape has maintained its position as South Africa’s fourth largest gambling hub, after Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The Eastern Cape may be a rural province, but it is now, after Gauteng, the second fastest growing industry in the country. Our growth rate has overtaken both the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal. However, this poses an additional challenge,” says Zwane.
The ECGBB was South Africa’s first gambling board to introduce a category of Limited Payout Machines (LPMs) for small operators, with 6-15 machines and an investment of only R180 000. In the past year, the Eastern Cape hit another first in becoming the first province where a route operator reached the milestone of 1 000 LPMs. Bingo was successfully rolled out toward the end of the 2013 / 2014 financial year. It now seems set to follow on LPMs as the next big success story. Three venues have opened, with a monthly GGR of around R5.6 million. Every Bingo venue creates an average of 70 employment opportunities.
Zwane says the growth of the industry also places a responsibility on the industry to promote responsible gambling practices particularly over the festive period. South Africans who are hoping for a big gambling payout to drop into their Christmas stocking so they can get out of debt, should think again and gamble responsibly.
Already accepted by more than 56% or about four million of Eastern Cape citizens as an entertainment activity, this number should be on the up as gambling and betting is being increasingly accepted as an entertainment rather than an economic activity. About 53% of Eastern Cape casino gamblers fall within the income category R3201 – R12800 with just over 6% of gamblers earning more than R12 800 a month.
“Gambling is not a miracle cure for financial woes. Gamblers who find themselves digging into their savings or food money to stay ahead at the gambling establishment, should find help as soon as possible. ECGBB carries the additional responsibility of educating communities on the negative effects of problem gambling. This extends to eliminating all forms of illegal gambling activities. We encourage people to gamble in legal institutions where they have access to protection.
“Gambling as a leisure and entertainment activity should be no different from going out to a bar, restaurant or to the movies. There shouldn’t be any other motivation other than that to gamble. It must come with the understanding that there is an equal chance of winning and losing. As such, we are going out to discourage people from gambling with their pay cheques with the view of doubling it. It is unlikely to happen,” Zwane explains.
“The warning signs are simple. If you have ever had to lie about how much money or time you spent gambling, or if you find yourself increasing your bets to keep the excitement going, you have a gambling problem. You should get help. Other indications of problem gambling are sleeplessness, depression and anxiety linked to your gambling habits. Various treatment options are available nationally,” Zwane adds.
Since 2012, the ECGBB has effectively dealt with problem gambling, bringing it down from around 3% to 2% – or 0.6% below the current national average. In the past year, the campaign gained further momentum as a total of 12.9 million people were reached with the responsible gambling message in ten campaigns. It is also not uncommon within a three-month period to have a hundred illegal gambling machines worth more than R1 million confiscated.
Another effect of the education campaign was that the number of disputes from punters decreased drastically. The ECGBB’s Responsible Gambling Programme was the first of its kind in the country. It educated the public about responsible gambling as well as the impacts of illegal gambling into the fiscal and advantages and benefits of legal gambling.
Illegal gambling is popular to punters because they say the chances of winning there are high. The operators of illegal gambling establishments can afford to pay out more than the legal ones as they are not regulated. They do not pay any taxes and often use cheap labour.
For more information on responsible gambling, contact the National Responsible Gambling Programme, on 0800 006 008.
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