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South Africa is one of the continent’s top gambling hotspots. While there are controversies around how the entire industry is controlled in the country, individual provinces are free to regulate their gambling markets. Mpumalanga, for example, has several land-based casinos operating with legit licences.

But who issues these permits, and what does it take to get one? Read on! This article covers the legal landscape of gambling in Mpumalanga, gambling regulators in the province and how the authorities ensure player protection.

Gambling Regulator

The recent growth in SA’s gambling industry has seen many casino operators eyeing this emerging market. But there’s always one concern - regulation. In Mpumalanga, there are no complications at all.

All gambling activities are regulated by the Mpumalanga Economic Regulator (MER). This body works under the province’s Gambling Act of 1995, which provides all the legal guidelines for gambling regulation in Mpumalanga.

Also, it works under South Africa’s National Gambling Board (NGB).

What are MER’s responsibilities?

The Mpumalanga Economic Regulator is tasked with:

  • Issuing licences to land-based casinos
  • Conducting regular compliance checks on all licensees
  • Auditing all licensees to ensure levies are complete, correctly compiled and paid on time
  • Research and planning to help in policy formulation and decision-making within the gambling industry in the province.

Compliance checks, you ask? Well, the MER has to confirm that casinos offer fair games, provide responsible gambling help and do not provide any illegal gambling services.

Currently, this gambling regulator does not issue online casino licences, and neither does the National Gambling Board. So, no legal online casinos are operating from South Africa. They all work under offshore licences.

Player Protection

From the onset, MER’s mission is to ensure the integrity of the gambling industry in Mpumalanga. That takes us to its main objectives, one of which is to ensure everyone who intends to participate in gambling within the province is suitable. What does that mean? You must be of legal gambling age (18 years or older).

Then there are several player protection rules put in place. They include:

  • Equipment - Before any casino operator is granted a licence, all gambling equipment is checked and audited for fairness. Adding unapproved equipment will be an offence.
  • RTP - All gambling machines in each casino must have an RTP of not less than 80%.
  • Minimum bankroll requirement - Casinos are required to maintain an amount enough to protect their players against defaults. This amount will be calculated and approved by the board.
  • Progressive jackpots - No licensee should withdraw a jackpot or reduce the amount displayed on the jackpot metre unless a player wins it. There are a few other exceptions, though. This is done to ensure the casino delivers on its promises.

Lastly, MER promotes responsible gambling through campaigns. It has been tasked with ensuring public awareness of the province’s gambling industry.

Where do I report unfair treatment?

While we work to ensure you don’t fall victim to rogue casinos, you may find yourself in one. You play and win, but the casino never pays out the money. If this happens to you in Mpumalanga, don’t fret. The gambling regulator will surely intervene.

If you feel your rights have been violated, you can lodge a direct complaint with the board. But before that, try resolving the dispute with the casino itself. If you can’t resolve it, the casino has 14 days to inform the board. They must mention what the dispute is and what led to it.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t file the complaint within those two weeks.

After contacting the board, the dispute will be investigated and a decision made within 30 days. The player and the casino will receive a written copy of the decision. The casino will have 21 days to meet its end of the bargain.

Do I pay taxes for casino wins in Mpumalanga?

In Mpumalanga or South Africa at large, only regular income activities are subject to tax. As a player, gambling is most probably a hobby. You, therefore, won’t need to pay any taxes from the winnings. The tax man will have nothing against you. Only casino operators need to submit levies and file their tax returns.

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