A Letter to Legalize

Gambling legislation is in the spotlight worldwide. In South Africa, the Eastern Cape MEC Mlungisi Mvoko has called for online gambling to be legalized for the potential tax revenue. I’m inclined to agree, and I hope to see the laws changed to allow for a legal online gambling industry. 

The Facts on Gambling Revenue

With online gambling currently considered illegal, it leaves a huge open hole of revenue that regulatory boards, authorities and companies are all losing out on. 

Legal gambling winnings can be taxed and contribute to an overall GDP – and that’s just some of the revenue benefits laid out on paper. But illegal gambling revenue often only cycles back to the underground and funds more illegal activity.

Existing (and Increasing) Demand

There’s an existing demand for legal online gambling. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the fact that sports betting is legal – and doing well – in many places where online gambling isn’t legal yet.

The existence of illegal gambling also says a lot: There’s an obvious demand for the ability to participate, and it’s a sin to miss out on it. 

Legalization might not stop instances of illegal gambling, but creating a legal and viable alternative where demand can be channeled will certainly (1) make gambling easier to regulate and (2) make gamblers less likely to seek out illegal alternatives.

A Legitimate Career and Sport

Professional poker is a viable career for many people (and arguably, it’s less risky than some stock investments). But with online poker remaining illegal, some already-professional players had to move towards traveling out of the country if they wanted to compete in any online games.

Again, there’s a lot of missed opportunity, both for aspiring poker and bridge players, but also for businesses and government departments missing out on revenue.

While it’s classed as “gambling” by the same laws, games like poker and bridge are also valid as mind-sports when they’re played online and for money. 

Opening Up Opportunity

As a disabled writer (and card player), I know the limitations of my body – and I know my health is likely going to look a little worse in ten years, or in twenty if I survive for that long. 

What does this have to do with online gambling? Again, opportunity. 

If online gambling were legal, it would open up the possibility of a career that doesn’t involve a lot of mobility or travel.

Other than the opportunity for potential players, imagine the opportunity for local software developing companies and local entrepreneurs who could legally own 

Still Advocating Responsible Gambling

The legalization of online gambling supports responsible gambling instead of counteracting it. 

We don’t ban sex because of sex addiction: Offer alternatives and therapy for addicted individuals to overcome their addiction – and allow responsible people to enjoy it in responsible ways. The same can be said of drugs or alcohol. Why is this stance still taken towards gambling, especially of the online type?

Legalization Means the Ability to Regulate

Legalization means – at least partially – the ability to regulate a handful of reputable gambling operators. 

If online gambling is legalized, the Gambling Board would have far more authority over the online space and be able to refer people in the direction of safe gambling spaces. Right now, the best answer they have is telling people not to gamble – and of course, many people choose illegal means.

Sports Licenses – for Online Gambling? 

If it still seems like too much to handle for some regulatory gambling bodies, what about individual sporting licenses that would allow those who apply and register to compete online in large-stakes poker tournaments or money bridge games?

This means that regulatory bodies aren’t missing out on revenue, and don’t have to overhaul the entire gambling industry to allow their country’s card-playing mind athletes to compete on a world scale.

Roulette and slots aren’t mind sports, but poker and bridge are. This allows for a clear distinction on some level as a potential solution.

A Closing Statement

With the proper regulation, the benefits of legalizing online gambling can outweigh the risks – and where that’s too much of a risk to take, the suggestion of sports licenses for online gamblers provides just one alternative.

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