Online Gambling in South Africa
Our sole focus at gamblers.africa is to guide South Africans through the complicated online gambling sphere. Our team of online gambling experts always puts the interest of players from South Africa first when assessing available sports betting sites and casinos online.
When evaluating online gambling sites, we focus on essential components such as reputation, gambling licence, safe gambling practises, banking options, rewards and promotions and available gambling options. We take linear actions to ensure that every online gambling site we recommend checks all boxes. We will not advise players to register at a site short of vital gambling offerings.
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Since 1673 the laws involving any form of gambling in South Africa have been strictly regulated. The Gambling Act of 1965 banned all forms of gambling. The exception to this law was betting on horse racing. These regulations were in place until 1994, when the new democratic power came to power and legalized gambling. The legalization happened two years later through the passage of the 1996 National Gambling Act.
In the same year, The National Gambling Board was established. They became responsible for the supervision and regulation of the gambling industry. Some years later, they also oversaw the sector while moving to the online world. However, land-based casinos are operating legally across the country. In 2004 National Gambling Act banned all online casinos and online casino games.
Many loud voices request to regulate the online casino market and make it legal. Several international operators are already offering South Africans their services illegally. And the government haven’t been able to establish working measures banning these.
Sports betting is not affected by these laws. Online sports betting is still allowed and remains popular across the nation.
Gambling in South Africa Today Summarised
Despite a weak South African economy and growing competition from illegal online casinos, the legalized gambling industry continues to see positive improvements. The casino segment generates the most significant share of the total gross gambling revenue. However, its market share has declined as bingo, betting, and limited payout machines have become increasingly popular.
Even though most South Africans play with licensed gambling operators, both land-based and online, a quarter of the gamblers still engage with unlicensed operators. This significantly impacts the licensed gambling market, which suffers enormous revenue losses.
The gambling industry generates many jobs across South Africa and has a positive impact on the economy as a whole. However, illegal online gambling is increasingly taking a more significant cut from land-based casinos and betting shops, resulting in less government tax revenue and people losing their jobs.
One of the significant contributors to the illegal gambling world is, in fact, online casinos. The various casino operators you can find online offer several benefits compared to a land-based casino, such as accessibility and convenience. These two are the driving factors which has resulted in massive demand for online casinos among the players in the gambling community.
The main issue with the online casino industry in South Africa is that most players do not know, nor realize, that this type of gambling is illegal according to South African regulations and laws.
Efforts are being made to further regulate licensed gambling with a new proposed National Gambling Amendment Bill by the minister of trade & industry, which focuses on the online casino segment. However, talk has been cheap so far, and we are still waiting for this matter to proceed.
Popular Forms of Gambling in South Africa
To better understand the gambling scene in South Africa, it is vital to apprehend which gambling segments are popular. In South Africa, there are four mains groups, however games like bingo
South African sports culture runs deep. Rugby, cricket and horse racing are some sports that are a part of the country’s rich history. This has resulted in a big sports betting market where punters like to bet on both local sports as well as on the international sporting scene.
Land Based Casinos
Across South Africa, you will find some of the world’s finest brick & mortar casinos. From GrandWest Casino in Cape Town to Sun City, about 2 hours outside Johannesburg – and even BoardWalk Casino in Port Elizabeth. They all offer a wide range of exciting slot- and video poker machines and table games like roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker and other exciting games of luck.
At the beginning of 2000, the South African National Lottery was introduced to the people of South Africa. It started as a single weekly Lotto draw but has since evolved. Now it is divided into a bi-weekly Lotto + Lotto Plus draw (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and a bi-weekly Powerball + Powerball Plus draw (Tuesdays and Fridays) with enormous jackpots.
As mentioned previously, the government of South Africa has yet to legalise online casinos. Which means it is currently illegal to own and operate online casinos within the borders of South Africa. Although South African authorities have yet to prosecute anyone for doing so, please be aware of the regulations and follow all rules set by the government.
A Growing Online Gambling Interest
The interest in gambling in South Africa has always been tremendous, and land-based casinos never lack visitors. Even though the appeal of online betting has remained stable throughout the years, a noticeable increase in interest in online casinos has been identified. This has again shed light on the online gambling regulations in the country.
Responsible Gambling in the Crosshair
For most people, gambling is harmless recreational fun—a form of leisure and entertainment. Many people in South Africa enjoy going to horse races and betting on sports events, and they don’t spend more money and time than they can afford.
However, for a small number of people, gambling does become a massive problem in their lives. And it is because of these people government need to establish solid regulations and provide clear guides to the operator on promoting fair and responsible gambling.
With an increasing gambling interest in South Africa comes a lot of responsibilities from both regulators and operators. The South African Gambling Act must be revised. Decisions need to be made, and clarity must go with it – either legalise and regulate online casinos or provide the tools to handle all illegal gambling activities better.
While the responsibility lies with the issuing gambling board to ensure strict responsible gambling measures, authorities such as Gamblers.Africa is here to promote and assist with responsible gambling.
More Responsibility by South African Gambling Operators
Even though online gambling is nowhere near the same popularity as betting in shops and land-based casinos, South Africa generally lacks responsible gambling. Many people are aware of the potential harm gambling can have. Still, the general attitude towards it – is turning the other cheek. Studies show it might be a result of not knowing what tools and measures are in place to assist players in betting safely.
As with any business, online gambling operators are also directly responsible for their activities and must ensure that regulations and responsible gambling principles are adhered to. And with a growing interest in online gambling, this is more important than ever.
- Never chase their losses
- Never borrow money to gamble
- Set deposit limits where available
- Set session limits where available
- Gamble only as a form of entertainment
- Close their account when they are spending too much
- Only gamble with money they can afford to loose
- Offer responsible gambling tools
- Allow self-service closing of accounts
- Provide responsible gambling information
- Never encourage vulnerable players to bet
- Don’t allow more than one account per player
- Don’t use exaggerated claims in promo material
- Monitor player behaviour to prevent overspending
Online gambling operators across South Africa need to ensure that their players are presented with a clear overview of the terms and conditions and that these are understood correctly by the players.
On top of that, the operator must offer e a wide range of online safety measures to ensure the players’ online well-being. To ensure the player’s safety and promote fair and responsible online gambling, the operator and the software providers must focus on various aspects.
- Avoid irresponsible gambling by providing players with betting limits and self-exclusion tools.
- Avoid underage betting problems by confirming players’ age before deposits can be made.
- Have good security tools against online threats and criminal activities to guarantee player data privacy and security.
- Always focus on delivering a secure gambling environment to players by integrating software monitoring capabilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
The online gambling scene in South Africa can often appear somewhat confusing. There are many forms of gambling, some legal and others not. The general regulations are not as straightforward as one could hope for.
We will update this section regularly to cover all the most common questions people have concerning the online gambling industry in South Africa.
Is online gambling legal in South Africa?
The National Gambling Act of 2004 banned online gambling in South Africa. However, there are various types of online gambling and currently it is online casino which is illegal.
Online sports betting remains legal in South Africa, as long as you make sure to wager with a licensed online gambling operator.
How to get a gambling license in South Africa
Gambling within South Africa is highly regulated and is overseen by the National Gambling Board and the local gambling boards from each individual province.
To apply for a gambling license you need to contact your local gambling board and you can find all the contact details here. There are certain conditions laid down by each gambling board that the operator must fulfil to be considered being approved a license.
Responsible Gambling Assistance in South Africa
If you ever feel that you need to talk to someone or need assistance with curbing your gambling and betting behaviour, there’s help to get. In South Africa, several organisations assist South Africans with getting back on track and ending the nightmare of gambling addiction.
Gambling problems can happen to anyone around us. A common indicator of addiction is when your gambling goes from a fun and harmless to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences, affecting your personal life negatively.
Gambling addiction is nothing to feel embarrassed about. If you are worried that you lost control of your habits, don’t hesitate to contact any of the below treatment facilities.
The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation provides Free and Confidential Treatment and Counselling to those affected by Problem Gambling and their immediate family members.
For the past 18 Years The SARGF has successfully treated more than 18, 500 South Africans.
To get in touch with SARGF please visit their website by clicking the logo below or call them on: +27 21 674 5830
Offers a 24/7 hotline for emergencies and their counsellors are able to handle your questions about compulsive gambling, and provide long term treatment.
They focus on holistic treatment models for treating and overcoming Gambling Addiction – and have managed helped a broad range of patients
To get in touch with Recovery Direct please visit their website by clicking the logo below or call them on: +27 87 378 1330
Approved by the SARGF and registered with the Department of Social Development and Department of Health of South Africa and SARGF – ixande offering clinical care in a community setting.
ixande is dedicated to providing the best possible addiction care at the lowest possible cost.
To get in touch with Recovery Direct please visit their website by clicking the logo below or call them on: +27 21 761 7348
South African Gambling Regulation
As the rest of the world moves from traditional land-based casinos and betting shops, South Africa is still far behind. The government has yet to make their next big move, but as for now, there is a lot of uncertainty. While the South African government is trying to please gamblers by allowing certain forms of online betting – many are still unhappy.
The opinion on legalising online gambling is still very much divided. The conservative ministers in parliament would rather keep online gambling prohibited. At the same time, the reformers in parliament would like to focus on the future of the online gambling industry and legalise it. There are valid points to justify both parties’ concerns. But there are also good points to overthrow all matters and legalise online gambling.
How about the Regulations for Online Casinos?
The government has deemed all online casinos illegal and targeted online casinos and banks. The 2010 Act banned domestic and foreign online casinos from offering any casino games to the people of South Africa. The government set a hefty fine of ZAR 10 million to be paid by online casinos that provides their services to South Africans. It also threatened local banks and media stations that facilitate online casino gaming in various ways.
South Africans have raised concerns over being unfairly treated and that they should be free to choose whether to gamble. By altogether criminalising online casinos in South Africa, many are left breaking the law by playing on offshore online casinos.
Regulatory Changes on the Horizon
As we already know, the South African gambling industry is heavily regulated, and the various gambling boards strictly control licensing. The gambling regulatory framework is set to shift when the proposed National Gambling Amendment Bill is hopefully approved.
In its current form, the bill provides for new offences and the forfeiture of illegal winnings, revised definitions covering bingo, limited payout machines, online gambling and advertising, the restructuring of the National Gambling Board into a National Gambling Regulator and the introduction of a self-regulating body for the horse racing industry.
This and other regulatory changes such as the Liquor Amendment Bill, the proposed gambling levy and proposals in Gauteng to change casino tax may change the fortunes of some casino and betting operators.
The Provincial Boards
For more in-depth information about the various provincial gambling boards, please click here.
Gauteng Gambling Board
Western Cape Gambling & Racing Board
Eastern Cape Gambling & Betting Board
Free State Gambling & Liquor Authority
Kwazulu Natal Gaming & Betting Board
Mpumalanga Gambling Board
North West Gambling Board
Limpopo Gambling Board
Northern Cape Gambling Board
Challenges for the Gambling Industry in South Africa
Many future battles will be fought in the South African gambling arena. And many areas where improvements can be made. Experts have raised their voices, and here are some of the concerns and challenges that we at gamblers.africa believe must come into focus;
- CLARITY. Regulations regarding online gambling are not clear enough, and the Gambling Act needs to be amended. The regulatory frameworks need to be reworked to avoid operators taking advantage of regulatory limbos, e.g. illegal online operators targeting and offering online gambling to the public while licensed elsewhere. This resulted in money leaving the Republic of South Africa and no benefit to the government in terms of creating jobs and taxes paid.
- UNITY. The lack of uniformed norms and standards across the provincial gambling boards quickly confuses and must be addressed.
- GUIDELINES. Lack of guidelines on how law enforcement can deal with unfair gambling practices and a lack of responsible gambling.
- EXPERTISE. Creation of expert gambling boards that focus on fair and responsible gambling and implementing guidelines and technology to ensure that these areas are taken care of.
- TECHNOLOGY. Technological advancements pose a challenge to the gambling industry in South Africa.
Latest South African Gambling News
Betfred is on a mission to further expand its South African footprint. The sportsbook announced that it has finalized a deal with LottoStar. LottoStar is amongst the most prominent players in the African betting market. Betfred certainly seems unstoppable. It was in June 2021 when the company first entered the South African sports betting arena. It was…
Hollywoodbets, a leading online betting operator in South Africa, has recently struck a lucrative new deal. In partnership with RMG, Racecourse Media Group, and SIS, Sports Information Services, Hollywoodbets has secured an exciting opportunity. They will provide South Africa with the best British and Irish horserace betting. This will add to the already wide range…
iGaming studio Pragmatic Play already has a presence in Africa. It seems that plans are to expand that even further. The company revealed that it is investing in the South African market. A deal has been confirmed with local sportsbook Hollywoodbets. According to the deal, the local site will be receiving all of Pragmatic Play’s…
A proposed sale agreement between global independent bookmaker Betfred and South African gambling operator Sepels Sportsbet is making headlines. On April 11, 2022, an article was published that suggested Sepels Sportsbet may not hold the 12 gambling licenses they claim to have. Since Sepels Sportsbet now intends to sell those licenses to Betfred as part…
Following the major success of online platforms in the last two years, market trends have changed dramatically. Land-based casinos have been amongst some of the hardest hit, with a steep decline in customers that’s been slow to improve. Instead of folding, however, many land-based casinos have begun to embrace online gambling instead. This has provided…
Leading online casino provider Pragmatic Play has expanded its presence in South Africa. The brand has just signed a major deal with gambling site operator Playbet. Thanks to the new deal, the operator’s customers have access to the provider’s full catalog of slots, live casino games and virtual sports titles. According to reports, the provider’s…