Ever since 1673 the laws involving any form of gambling in South Africa has been strictly regulated. The Gambling Act of 1965 officially banned all forms of gambling, except betting on horse racing, until 1994 when the new democratic power came to power and legalised gambling two years later through the passage of the 1996 National Gambling Act.
Licensed Betting Sites in South Africa | 2021
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Gambling in South Africa Today Summarised
Despite a generally weak South African economy and growing competition from illegal online casinos, the legalised gambling industry continue to see positive improvements year after year. The casino segment continues to generate the biggest share of the total gross gambling revenue, but its market share has started to decline as bingo, betting and limited payout machines has become more and more popular.
Even though the majority of South Africans play with licensed gambling operators, both land-based and online, a quarter of the gamblers still engage with unlicensed operators and contribute to other illicit gambling activities. This obviously has a big impact on the licensed gambling market which suffer enormous revenue losses. The gambling industry generates many jobs across South Africa and has a positive impact on the economy as a whole. However, the illegal online gambling is increasingly taking a bigger cut from the land based casinos and betting shops, which results in less tax revenue for the government and people losing their jobs.
One of the major contributors to the illegal gambling world is in fact the 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 huge demand for online casinos among the players in gambling community. The main issue with the online casino industry in South Africa is that the majority of the players do not know, nor realise, that this type of gambling is illegal according to south African regulations and law.
Efforts are made to further regulate licensed gambling with a new proposed National Gambling Amendment Bill by the minister of trade & industry, focuses on the online casino segment, but so far talk has been cheap and we are still waiting for this matter to proceed.
Popular Forms of Gambling in South Africa
To get a better feeling of the gambling scene in south Africa, is it important to understand which various gambling segments that 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 of the sports that are a part of the countries 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 be able to find some of the worlds finest brick & mortar casinos. From GrandWest Casino in Cape Town to Sun City about 2 hours outside of Johannesburg – and even BoardWalk Casino in Port Elizabeth. They all offer a wide range of exciting slot- and video poker machines, table games like roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker and others exciting games of luck.
In 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 then evolved 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 of gambling in South has always been huge, and land-based casinos are never lacking in visitors. Even though the interest of online betting has remained stable throughout the years, an noticeable increase of interest for online casino has been identified which once again has shed light to the online gambling regulations in the country.
Responsible Gambling in the Crosshair
For the overwhelming majority of people, gambling is harmless recreational fun. A form of leisure and entertainment. Many people in South Africa enjoy going to the horse races, bet on sport events and they don’t spend more or money time than they can afford either.
However, for a small number of people, gambling does become a huge problem in their lives. And it is because of these people government need to establishing strong regulations and provide clear guides to operator on how to promote fair and responsible gambling.
With an increasing gambling interest in South Africa comes a lot of responsibilities from both regulators and operators. It is important that the South African Gambling Act is revised. Decisions need to be done and clarity must come with it – either legalise and regulate online casinos or provide the tools to better handle all the illegal gambling activities.
While the responsibility certainly lies with the issuing gambling board to ensure strict responsible gambling measures, authorities such as Gamblers.Africa are here to promote and assist with responsible gambling.
More Responsibility by Gambling Operators
Even though online gambling is no where near the same popularity as betting in shops and land-based casinos. There’s a general lack of responsible gambling across South Africa. Many people are aware of the potential harm gambling can have, but the general attitude towards it – is turning the other cheek. Studies show it might be a result of not knowing what kind of tools and measures are in place to assist players in betting safely.
As any business, online gambling operators are also directly responsible for their activities and must make sure that regulations and responsible gambling principles are adhered to. And with a growing interest for online gambling this are 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 make sure 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 it is of high importance that the operator has put in place a wide range of online safety measurements to ensure the players well-being online. To ensure the players safety and to promote fair and responsible online gambling the operator, together with the software provides, 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 sufficient security tools in place against various online threats and criminal activities to guarantee player data privacy and security
- Always focus on deliver a secure gambling environment to players by integrating software monitoring capabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
The online gambling scene in South Africa can often appear rather confusing. There are many forms of gambling, where some are legal and some are not. The regulations in general are not as straightforward as one could hope for. We will update this section reguary to try 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 there are a number of organisations that assist South Africans with getting back on track and end 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 and it started to affect you personal life negatively.
Gambling addiction is nothing to feel embarrassed about and if you are worried that you lost control of your habits, place make sure 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 the rest of the world moves from traditional land-based gambling and betting shops, South Africa is still far behind. The government has yet to make their next big move, but as for now, there’s a lot of uncertainties. While the South African government is trying to please gamblers in allowing certain forms of online betting – many are still unhappy.
The opinion in legalising online gambling is still very much divided. The conservative ministers in parliament would rather keep online gambling prohibited. While 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’s also valid points to overthrow all concerns and legalise online gambling.
How about the Regulations for Online Casinos?
The government has deemed all online casinos illegal and have been targeting online casinos and banks. The 2010 Act banned both domestic and foreign online casino to offer any type of 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 made the same threats to 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 have the freedom of choosing whether to gamble or not. By completely criminalising online casinos in South Africa, many are left breaking the law by playing on offshore online casinos.
Unlicensed South African Online Casinos | 2021
Below you can find online gambling operators focusing on the South African market illegally.
Regulatory Changes on the Horizon
The South African gambling industry is, as we already know, heavily regulated and licensing is strictly controlled by the various gambling boards. The gambling regulatory framework is set to shift when the proposed National Gambling Amendment Bill hopefully is 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
There are many future battles to be fought on 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 in focus;
- CLARITY. Regulations are not clear enough in terms of online gambling and the Gambling Act need 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 result in money leaving the Republic of South Africa and no benefit to government in terms of creation of jobs and taxes paid.
- UNITY. Lack of uniformed norms and standard across the provincial gambling boards easily causes confusion and must be addressed
- GUIDELINES. Lack of guidelines on how law enforcement can deal with unfair gambling practises and lack of responsible gambling.
- EXPERTISE. Creation of expert gambling boards who work and focus on fair and responsible gambling, and the implementation of guidelines and technology to ensure that these areas are been taken cared of.
- TECHNOLOGY. Technological advancements posing a challenge to the gambling industry in South Africa.
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