Piggs Peak Casino Loses South African CaseBy: Ryan Alders, Friday September 30th 2011
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It was one of the longer and much followed legal cases concerning online gambling in recent years. One party was the Microgaming powered well known online casino Piggs Peak belonging to Casino Enterprises, a Swaziland-based company. The other party was the state of South Africa represented by its National Gambling Board. The final battle was fought in the Appeal Court in Bloemfontein, after Piggs Peak online casino had lost in the lower courts.
The appeal of Piggs Peak online casino was rejected by the Appeal Court ending with finality the long drawn litigation. A statement from Casino Enterprises read, "With immediate effect Casino Enterprises (Pty) Limited trading as Piggs Peak Casino, Piggs Peak Poker, Piggs Peak Bingo and Volcanic Gold Casino will no longer accept bets from any players in South Africa. Should you have a positive balance in your Piggs Peak Casino account, please make a withdrawal. Please note: Our casino will only be accessible by players outside the borders of South Africa."
The issue at stake was where the online gambling takes place. Piggs Peak online casino maintained that the online gambling takes place on the servers of the operator and not on the hardware of the player. Since the servers were located in Swaziland, where online gambling is legal, Piggs Peak maintained that the legal position of online gambling in South Africa becomes immaterial. Justice Jonathan Heher of the Appeal Court ruled that the online gambling takes place where the player is, and not where the casino's servers are located. Justice Heher gave several reasons in support of his decision. The player takes and activates the crucial decision to gamble at his place of residence; the online casino intrudes upon the field of licensed operators at the player's place of residence and it does so without payment of dues to the country where the player resides. Therefore the gambling in this case has taken place in South Africa. Justice Heher added, "If gambling takes place in South Africa it is of no consequence what means are employed to facilitate it and whether those means are employed outside the country."
The South African National Gambling Board had made its intent clear. Once it had a final court ruling in its favor it would proceed with the prosecution of both operators and players. Now that the ruling has come, online players in South Africa can only hope for the Gambling Act to be amended. As the matter stands now, the Gambling Review Commission has recommended that online gambling be made legal. However, government is still considering the recommendations. After the government accepts the recommendations, there is a long legalization process to be undertaken. Experts are not willing to set a date, but the count will be in years. Till then online gambling is illegal in South Africa no matter where the servers of the operator are located.
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