Appeal by Swaziland online gambling firm in South Africa
February 18, 2007, 10:43 am (6 years ago)
The South African online gambling legal scene is on a high after the publication of news. It is known thatpermission has been granted for a key civil case that will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeals in the judicial centre of Bloemfontein. Hartzenberg, the Honourable Judge of High Court of South Africa granted Piggs Peak Online Casino leave to appeal an ruling of early November.
The case started from 2003 following a quest by n Swaziland based online gambling company based in order to get a declaratory judgement that Internet gambling operations of this company were legal in South Africa.
Piggs Peak Online Casino is a subsidiary of Casino Enterprises. Piggs Peak began the court procedure from the perspective that gambling by South Africans on its site is legal as the servers are geographically located in Swaziland. This website is also licensed and regulated by the Swaziland Gambling Board.
On 27th November 2006 W. Hartzenberg, Pretoria High Court Judge commented that Casino Enterprises had not revealed a reason for approaching him for the order. He said,” "In the result, I shall set aside the declaration and allow the plaintiff time to file an amended declaration”. Then situations became more difficult for Piggs Peak.
Casino Enterprises parent body of Piggs Peak, served an application appalling the Hartzenberg ruling on 7 December 2006, and Hartzenberg gave the company a stipulated time frame up to 15 December to modify its application for a court order to declare its Internet gambling operations in SA legal.
The appeal assumed greater importance as it paid light to ambiguities regarding the legality of South African online gambling, which the national government at Cabinet level is currently considering legalising and regulating.
A further wrangle developed at the caution of Gauteng provincial gambling board. Gauteng board said"...application for leave to appeal and to lodge an application to order Piggs Peak to comply with the judgement handed down by Justice Hartzenberg, while waiting for the appeal be heard". "This means the legal ambiguity about online gambling continues and that online gamblers and online gambling advertisers have a further reprieve from prosecution," a Gauteng official commented.
In spite of the fact that, Hartzenberg effectively having set aside the case aside, the parties involved have up to now drawn diametrically opposite conclusions from the case. Hartzenberg's judgment is seen as a victory from the perspective of the National and Gauteng Gambling Boards. They have threatened to prosecute online casinos, gamblers and advertisers. On the other hand, Casino Enterprises thinks its activities as perfectly legal.
This week's permission will allow the matter will to be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeals in Bloemfontein.
South African Cabinet has approved a Draft Gambling Amendment Bill to regulate online and cellphone gambling. Thibedi Majake, CEO of National Gambling Board said last year that his board would license online casinos once the Bill transforms to law.
Though political events have overtaken the Casino Enterprises case, it has become one of the meaningful international interest after the recent ruling by an Israeli judge that (in his view) Internet gambling happens at the computer of a gambler and not at online casino server.