Gambling boosts revenue in Limpopo
WARNING: Illegal gamblers, even if "they are pensioners", will be arrested and made to serve jail terms
CASINO gambling and betting in Limpopo contributed R34-million in revenue to government coffers during the 2011/12 financial year ending in March, the Limpopo Gambling Board has told a parliamentary committee.
The revenue increased by R5-million from R29-million in the previous financial year.
Between 2009 and 2011 the industry had contributed R55-million to revenue and donated R1.6-million for welfare programmes.
The board said the surge was pushed by an increase in casino and low-pay machines, and a levy that had increased from 5% to 8% last year.
Limpopo Gambling Board chief executive Serobi Maja said the gambling industry helped to grow the provincial economy and create more employment.
According to the report presented to the economic development, environment and tourism portfolio committee on Friday in Polokwane there was more potential for revenue to increase if the board approved pending licence applications.
The board told the committee it expected revenue to increase 20% in the 2012/13 financial year, which will enable it to collect R40-million.
New casino licences have been granted to Khoroni, Meropa and yet-to-operate Thaba Moshate.
Thaba Moshate Casino has not yet been built because of high court disputes over zoning rights and other issues among developers.
However, the gambling industry is faced with a tough task as fafee operators and other illegal operators are increasing their activities, collecting their revenue untaxed.
According to the gambling board, illegal operators make a profit of R14,000 a day, money used to finance illegal activities.
The board said poor citizens and pensioners have become targets of illegal gambling as the operators were stretching their wings, operating even at pension pay-points.
At the same time the board is not ready to regulate illegal gambling and place them in the mainstream industry.
Maja said the gambling board cannot regulate or legalise fafee as gambling because the games are played under trees or in cars that move from one village to another.
"It is very difficult to regulate them, how do you regulate activities played under trees or in cars, we will not be able to audit them," he said
According to the board 1156 people were arrested for their involvement in illegal gambling activities in the year under review.
However, Maja said the high number did not reflect the province as the worst case, saying other provinces were not arresting people suspected of illegal gambling.
"Other provinces said it is the responsibility of national lottery," Maja said.
He warned that gamblers, even if "they are pensioners", will be arrested and made to serve jail terms to curb the activity.