The numbers for South Africa's gambling industry are out for 2014 and they're looking great despite a host of factors which were expected to adversely affect them over the said period of time.
Indeed, it is now clear that 2014 saw a major rise in gross gambling revenues across the country, such a substantial rise in fact that the R2.1 billion increase was the second biggest over the last 5 years.
Percentage-wise, we're talking about a 4.5% improvement over the previous year, a number which would not be particularly impressive under other circumstances, but given how most experts had projected a shrinking of gaming revenues, it is in fact quite sensational. The above detailed numbers completely exclude the National Lottery.
What's more, the 2014 numbers have given rise to a lot of optimism as experts now forecast continued growth through 2015 and all the way to 2019. It is expected that that the industry, which currently tips the scale at about R23.9 billion, will balloon to be worth some R30.3 billion by 2019.
According to Pietro Calicchio of South Africa's PwC, the industry stares down a number of challenges which can in fact turn the optimistic predictions right around.
One of these is economic slowdown, which these days always seems to be just around the corner. The other is changing regulation, which may change the legal status of online gambling in the country, completely rearranging the playing-field.
Of the 2014 gross gambling revenues, casinos made up some 72%, which - while impressive - already marked a bit of market-share loss, as in 2013, live gambling establishments had a 76% share of the overall revenues.
Currently, there are 40 casino licenses available in the country and 38 functioning casinos. It has recently been announced that in the near future, the maximum number of casino licenses shall be increased from 40 to 41, thus there will be room for 3 more establishments in the lineup.
With the increase of revenues, the amount of taxes collected increased as well. Some R2.5 billion was collected by authorities, marking a 10.7% increase from 2013.