The portfolio committee on sport and recreation has undertaken to investigate the feasibility of taxing the sports betting industry as a way to supplement the shortfall in revenue required for sports funding.
This comes after Safa tabled a proposal before Parliament last week suggesting that the football governing body should receive a fair return from private wagering operators who conduct betting for Safa events.
“The wagering operators are pocketing R3.5 billion a year, and football – which gives them the platform to do that – and sport in general get nothing,” bemoaned Safa’s acting chief executive, Russell Paul.
“Over the past six years, the betting revenue has grown by 450% to R39.7 billion in South Africa, at a rate of 32.9% a year,” said Paul.
“You look at the R3.5 billion a year that these guys take home, and if they gave football 10%, that’s close to – if not bigger than – what you need to run the organisation for a year.
“You wouldn’t need sponsorship. You could just run it off the betting environment.”
Safa triggered the debate on betting after its struggle to source sponsorship for its proposed professional women’s football league, and for women’s football in general.
Safa said it needed R100 million to run a fully fledged women’s league.
“Even the National Lottery should be revisited so there can be an allocation to women’s sport,” said Paul.
“Our submission to government is that the betting legislation should allocate a percentage to sport. It goes without saying that, if we ignore this, we are going to find a challenge that, where there is money, there is corruption. We see this happening all over the show around the world.
“We need to ensure that there are proper integrity systems in place,” pleaded Paul.
He said such systems were already in effect in other countries and that he was impressed by the Australian model, in which betting companies were compelled to seek permission from the Football Federation of Australia.
“One of the issues that comes out of this is that the more betting you allow, the more integrity you have to deal with – and it costs you more money.
As a point of departure during last week’s session in Parliament, sports portfolio committee chairperson Beauty Dlulane said they would interact with the portfolio committee on trade and industry.
“This committee will try to persuade Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa to consider Safa’s request. Even if it had only a month left to effect changes before the May general elections, this would set a precedent and persuade the incoming committee to amend the legislation.”