The National Gambling Board of South Africa has once more made its position on the legal status of gambling online for citizens of this country crystal clear. No one is authorised to engage in casino games of any kind online and those caught doing so will suffer severe penalties. The reminder has been issued in response to questions being raised around the exact status of online gambling in the country. The NGB’s position is that only online sports betting is permitted.
An Unequivocal No
In a media statement, the NGB has said that it is 100% illegal to engage in games of chance with online operators. This update was extended not just to the general public but to online operators as well. Anyone offering any kind of gambling product or service to South Africans are guilty of an offence and will be subject to criminal prosecution.
The NGB cautioned citizens that any kind of participation is illegal and stands a criminal offence, with the punishment of a fine of as much as R10 million possible or a jail term of 10 years. Winnings will additionally be confiscated and absorbed by the state.
The NGB referred to Section 11 of the National Gambling Act 2004 which states that unauthorised interactive gaming is against the law and people are not allowed to engage in these activities. While this law would have been lifted by the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008, passed in July that year, it has never come into effect. It will only become operational when it is published by the Government Gazette, which has not yet occurred.
Because this revision will only take hold when the President fixes a date to do so and it is proclaimed by the Gazette, it cannot be referenced in terms of iGaming. The 2004 Act stands supreme as a prescript in terms of online gambling in South Africa and in terms thereof, it remains forbidden.
Land-Based vs Online Gambling
Examples of interactive gambling in South Africa are defined as those available via smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. While casino games at brick-and-mortar venues are lawful, these need to have a valid license prominently displayed by the necessary licensing authority. Any setting which does not have this permit in place will be deemed illegal and operating against national and provincial gambling legislation.
The onus is on both operators and would-be players alike to ensure that any games of chance are legally being provided because failure to do so stands as criminal conduct. The NGB went on to say that anyone found guilty of this kind of activity will be punished to the full extent of the law.