Dean Macpherson takes umbrage with Ivo Vegter over DA’s gambling stance

Yesterday, BizNews published Ivo Vegter’s article on the Daily Friend titled: ‘DA goes protectionist on interactive gambling.’ The DA’s Dean Macpherson was mentioned in it, and he took exception to some of Vegter’s conclusions. We publish Macpherson’s right to reply below.

Reply to Ivo Vegter

By Dean Macpherson*

Ivo Vegter’s opinion piece “DA goes protectionist on interactive gambling” refers.

When I read Ivo’s piece, I honestly thought I was reading a satirical work published in the Daily Friend.

I must also state that I wonder how Ivo could write something about a Bill that he has never seen or read. It is a great pity he did not bother to ask me for the bill which I suspect would have given him a fuller picture about this important piece of legislation. Instead, and by his own admission, he relies on the published intention to submit a Private Members Bill, which is a prerequisite to the actual tabling of a Bill in Parliament.

One has to appreciate that this published intention, is but a snapshot of the entire bill to come. So it is quite a first then for someone to opine a piece on a mere intention, and not the bill itself.

Some realities about online/interactive/remote gambling. It is no secret that gambling, is a much loved pastime in South Africa. Whether it be on horses, sports, the lotto or in casino’s. The rise of online gambling has been astronomical, yet it remains banned in the country. This is ridiculous in 2022, but the Government has been determined to stamp it out, even once proclaiming it would “ban the internet” if that’s what it took.

Clearly this is an undesirable situation as it offers online players no rights and protection like land-based casino players have. Secondly, there is no ability for provinces or national government to generate revenue from online gambling. And why should they not? If land-based casino’s are tax payers, then surely online casino’s should be as well? For some reason, he believes that none of this is important.

Ivo’s contention is simply that there should be no regulation, no tax payed and that online gambling should continue to exist in the shadows. This is not good for anyone. Not players, not competitors, not the state and not for investment.

Online gambling is a multi-billion Rand business in South Africa, which exists mostly outside of the country. If we can entice companies to set up shop in South Africa and for it to become a hub into Africa, then this would be good for the country, but they require a regulatory framework to do so.

And it is exactly this that many companies have told me is the case, especially those that I have personally met at gaming conferences over the years.

Finally, Ivo’s attempt to harpoon the DA and myself by comparing me to Ebrahim Patel and advancing ANC ideology is petty because it is not born out of reality. It is Patel’s department and the ANC that has been desperate to continue the ban on online gambling. It is the DA and myself who is trying to bring it out of the dark and into the regulatory environment to make it legal.

So rather than “being on the side of the ANC on this issue”, the DA is completely on the opposite side of it. This would have all been made available to Ivo had he simply picked up the phone.

As my grandfather would often say, “don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story”. How true for Ivo Vegter.

  • Dean Macpherson MP (DA Shadow Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition).
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