The minister of finance for the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, Belinda Scott, has announced that she wants to do a major overhaul of the gambling sector. Scott has been tasked with picking a new gaming and betting board, after the previous members were suspended for corruption.
They were charged with granting bingo operators licenses to shopping malls around the province, allowing them to run electronic gambling machines. The licenses were issued after the members of the group met secretly and reached the decision without following the protocols of transparency set forth by the gaming and betting board.
Scott said in a statement that "transformation of the betting and gambling industry remains a key priority." She said she wanted to commit the new board to "vigorously pursue a transformation agenda in their term of office."
The minister said that she foresaw many new parties entering the horseracing, booking making, casino and bingo industries in KwaZulu-Natal, and said that she did not want to reach a situation where only a handful of stakeholders own all the licenses in the province.
"We want a real transformation in the gaming industry," she stressed.
Scott said that the appointment of a new gambling board comes right at the time when the KZN Gaming and Betting Act, 2010 is being amended.
"It is a very technical piece of legislation," she admitted, "fixing up some of the wrongs in the legislation to assist in effect transformation in real terms."
The minister said that the fundamental changes that were incorporated into the new bill are all about transformation. These include the introduction of horseracing in rural areas of the province, as well as the regulation of other forms of gaming so that they can receive funding from the board.
The minister admitted that the board faces many challenges in its five year term, including how to effectively transform the industry in real terms and how to get more people involved. Other challenges include the creation of employment and balancing the demand and rights of KZN residents to gamble, with the dangers of "social ills" that could result from an unregulated industry.
The new chairman of the KZN Gaming and Betting Board is Vusi Khuzwao, while deputy chair is Emmanuel Mpanza. Others appointed to board are Sinenhlanhla Mtembu, Bongekile Zulu, Pinky Mkhize, Nigel Hollis, Peter Miller, Siva Chetty and Hillary Hart.