Statement by Minister Rob Davies, following the National Liquor and Gambling Policy Council meeting held in Cape Town
5 May 2012
The National Gambling and Liquor Policy Council met on Friday, 4 May 2012 in Cape Town, to discuss issues affecting the two industries. The Council is constituted by Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, and the provincial MECs of Economic Development.
Draft Strategy to combat alcohol abuse
The Council acknowledged the work that has been done by the Liquor Regulators in aligning with the requirements by the governments’ Programme of Action to Combat Substance Abuse and the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan.
The aim of the draft strategy is to combat alcohol abuse and to put in place actionable measures at local, provincial and national level in order to combat alcohol abuse, and to set priority areas for regulation of the liquor industry so as to promote growth and foster responsible trading.
The meeting reiterated that the interventions as were in the past have not made the required impact of combating alcohol abuse in the country. The area that the council needed emphasised was the role of the industry and taking accountability in cases where in there may be negative impact caused by the retailer’s negligence or overlooking of guidelines.
Draft National Norms and Standards
On the area of National Norms and Standards, the council agreed that there is a need to have national norms that standardise the regulation of the industry and talk to areas that are problematic like the location of the outlets, their safety, the keeping of records and the trading hours for the different categories.
In order to fast track the National Norms and Standards, the council has given a go ahead for the regulators to improve on the presented areas, consult broadly and present the product to the council within three months.
The Council considered the Parliamentary report on the review of gambling that was presented to the select committee, and agreed that these processes must be respected, to this effect council affirmed that the next level will be the public consultations with the provinces driven by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), a critical process where the public will be expected to present their views on matters pertaining to gambling in the country.
The meeting emphasised the need for provincial licensing authorities to participate and enrich inputs as well as recommendations. The meeting also implored and resolved that the country and various regulating boards should desist from taking decisions in piecemeal, but consider the total recommendations that will come from the NCOP as well as those that have been already presented by the National Assembly.
National Strategy for Combating and Eradicating Illegal Gambling
The meeting emphasised the need to have a clear National Strategy for Combating and Eradicating Illegal Gambling in a cohesive manner with law enforcement agencies. The extent of illegal gambling in the country should be assessed while noting challenges identified in curbing this ill. The National Gambling Board (NGB) has been mandated to prepare an action plan on curbing illegal gambling and report on at the next meeting.
Council also reiterated that the regulation of Bingo remains an element considered within the Gambling Review Commission report by parliament. Against this background Council pronounced that the regulation of bingo be subsumed in the broader review process, pending public consultations by the NCOP, which will inform on how the country must proceed with a national policy and regulatory framework for bingo as a whole, a moratorium on the issuance of all automated bingo due must be halted.
It was noted and agreed that any issuance of, or call for expression of interest on the implementation of automated bingo without a national policy and regulatory framework that determines the number of licenses and play position will undermine the country’s efforts to build a coherent and harmonised gambling regulatory regime.
National Norms and Standards
The need for National Norms and Standards framework to guide all gambling activities was highlighted and emphasised by Council members. The meeting reiterated that such national norms and standards will not and must not be ultra-vires to the existing legislations, however they should at the end be legislated after extensive consultations that with the including the industry and also consider the submissions made to parliament on the matters of coherence and harmonisation and reduction of duplication.
The meeting agreed that this process should be led by the Director General of Trade and Industry Lionel October who will work with the Head of Departments of the provinces. The NGB will provide the input and all areas of significance for consideration by this meeting.
The following issues were presented to the meeting:
a. Comprehensive report on the Market analysis of the gambling industry on understanding the size and shape of the industry; the report flagged the need to consider the economic capabilities of the country to absorb new forms of gambling as well as changing forms of existing gambling.
That the country has to conducted continuous scenarios and forecasting exercises to understand the direction, shape and size of this industry to empower regulators and inform discussions. The meeting agreed that the study will also enrich the approach to the overhaul of the principal act.
(b) The second presentation was on the national prevalence study on understanding the propensity of the SA public to gamble and the need to have responsible regulators and regulation of the industry.
While the report showed that the country has lower percentages of problem gamblers, concerns must remain around the levels of poverty, unemployment and the social impact of gambling on communities.
Council concurred that there is need to understand and study gambling at specific sites and the profile of gamblers which inadvertently involve spending from of social wages or grants and sometimes giving credit for gambling. With the levels of poverty and unemployment council raised red flags around how gambling may exacerbate such conditions not identified as problem gambling.
The council highlighted a need for alignment as far as possible between the community social investment (CSI) and the national development agenda and or developmental imperatives of the country.
We concluded by committing with the responsible MECs that the council remains critical to give political guidance to the regulators and their boards, that meetings will be scheduled in a manner that ensures maximum attendance by MECs to ensure that substantive issues that impact on both gambling and liquor regulations are discussed. The meeting also acknowledged that much work needs to be done and working together we can do more.
Tel: 012 394 1650
Cell: 079 492 1774
Issued by: Department of Trade and Industry
5 May 2012
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