Interview with Sibongile Simelane-Quntana

The Responsible Gambling Foundation's executive director speaks about the role of the SARGF and how it assists business owners.

Tell us more about the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation.

The SARGF is a renewed non-profit company, representing a public-private initiative between government and the gambling industry. We are committed to promoting responsible gambling and mitigating any negative effects of gambling in South Africa. The SARGF directs a number of activities related to responsible gambling, including integrated treatment and counselling services, public awareness, education, and training and research. The Foundation works closely with operators, regulators and civil society to provide training to industry staff that enables them to identify problem gamblers and direct them towards our treatment services and counselling.

How can the SARGF assist business owners who operate in the gambling industry?

The SARGF is a renewed non-profit company, representing a public-private initiative between government and the gambling industry.

The department provides direct assistance to operators and business owners who utilise limited pay-out machines. Collateral (including slot machine stickers, pamphlets, responsible gambling posters, and so on) can be ordered online via collateral@responsiblegambling.org.za.

What projects or events can readers look forward to in the near future?

In the 2019/2020 financial year the Foundation will roll out a number of events (employee wellness programmes, workshops, public awareness campaigns and exhibitions) in all nine provinces. The provincial licensing authorities will partner with us to ensure maximum reach for our public programmes. Our social media platforms and the SARGF website have the latest schedules.

As a business owner with gambling facilities in my premises, what are some of the signs that I should look out for in order to assist my customers with gambling problems?

Warning signs of a gambling problem may include:

  • Acting aggressively toward staff and reacting violently to gambling losses.

  • Lack of self-control and an inability to stop, despite extensive losses.
  • Attempting to borrow or solicit money within the premises in order to continue gambling.
  • Appearing depressed and fatigued by the gambling activity and yet still determined to continue gambling irresponsibly.
  • Lying to family members or others in order to conceal the extent of their gambling.

Our Toll-Free National Responsible Gambling Line can be reached at 0800 006 008 or WhatsApp 076 675 0710.

How do I best prepare my staff for handling cash and working in a gambling environment?

The SARGF provides a responsible gambling training course specifically geared toward gambling industry staff. Our training courses provide insights into identifying gambling problems, while also providing a support and mentorship programme to help employees navigate the difficulties of the gambling environment. Staff training courses can be booked at training@responsiblegambling.org.za, by completing the secure online form found on the SARGF website, or by contacting our training team on 011 026 7323.

How does self-exclusion work when it comes to small businesses?

Self-exclusion is a programme whereby an individual will opt to exclude or ban themselves from gambling activities for a specific period of time and within a specific geographic region. The programme is a voluntary one and provides relief for individuals who are unable to control their gambling urges.

Readers should be cognisant of the fact that engaging in gambling activities or entering a gambling site while under a self-exclusion order is prohibited by law, and the offenders may be charged with trespassing. Furthermore, any winnings fraudulently obtained by an excluded customer will be forfeited and the offender may face a slew of charges. Additionally, readers should also note that the self-ban order is effective for a minimum of six months and is not automatically revoked after that period. If it is not revoked through the punter's request, the ban order could be effective for life.

Business owners with gambling facilities can contact the Foundation as follows: 011 026 7323, +27 21 674 5830, Sunnyside Office Park Building B, 1st Floor, 32 Sunnyside Dr & Carse O’Gowrie, Parktown, Johannesburg, Facebook: South African Responsible Gambling Foundation, Twitter: @SARGFoundation, Instagram: #southafricanresponsiblegamblingfoundation, LinkedIn: South African Responsible Gambling Foundation. The Toll Free Counselling Line is 0800 006 008 and the SMS Line is 076 675 0710.