Bookie Loses Constitutional Court Challenge
November 19, 2008 (InfoPowa News) — A licensed bookmaker in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa who challenged a law prohibiting the issue of bookmaking licenses to "juristic entities" — companies — whilst permitting the licensing of "natural," or individual bookmakers, has lost his case, reports IOL.
Michael Weare filed his initial challenge in the Pietermaritzburg High Court after having an application for a seperate license for his company refused under the KwaZulu-Natal Regulation and Betting Ordinance. The law dictates that bookmaking licenses can only be held by individual people, and not companies.
The court found in Weare's favour, but the matter was sent to the Constitutional Court — South Africa's highest — for ratification, with the provincial government claiming that the existing law legitimately regulated gambling, and that it would be more expensive and arduous for the provincial authorities to monitor companies and hold same accountable. The policy of restricting licenses was a rational way to ensure that gambling activities were properly regulated, the government asserted, adding that a new policy was being developed and that bills reforming gambling legislation were pending.
This week the Constitutional Court judges ruled unanimously that the law under attack regulated gambling, which was a legitimate government purpose. In its judgment, the judges said it was for the legislature to select the means to achieve the objectives of the government, and to decide when the moment had arrived to reform legislation.
"Provinces have a right to regulate their own gambling industries. There can be no objection in this case to the KwaZulu-Natal regime simply on the grounds that it is different to that of other provinces," the court ruled, finding no unfair discrimination and no breach of the constitution.