Ultimate Guide to Gambling Laws in South Africa

Gambling has been legal in South Africa for many decades. Our expert guide provides all the relevant information about online gambling laws and more.

There’s no doubt that South Africa has the fastest-growing gambling market. Despite the murky laws, gambling has been part and parcel of people for many years. All gambling platforms and venues must hold a license from the National Gambling Board (NGB) or other recognized authorities in order to operate in this region. Some of the gambling platforms are fully licensed by the local authority, while others hold recognized international authorities. 

Our complete guide provides new and experienced players with all the relevant information about gambling laws in South Africa.

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Local Gambling Laws

South Africans were already gambling by 1673 before the Dutch settlers arrived. It was in 1965 when the Dutch created a Gambling Act that banned all forms of gambling on the land. The only form of sport that was not included in the new law was horse racing. Despite the law, some casinos started appearing in the 1970s and they were illegally operated by the Bantustans. 

By the 1990s, there were thousands of casinos in various regions including Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei, and Venda. The new government, which was formed in 1994 legalized all forms of gambling, including casino gaming. South Africans were allowed to play different casino games like roulette, slot machines, blackjack, and poker. Also, sports betting options like football, volleyball, hockey, and horse racing were available to all punters. 

Unfortunately, this gambling freedom did not last long. A new Gambling Act was passed in the 2000s that recalled the 1996 Act. Both operators and players of online betting and casino gaming were banned. 

In 2008, a new National Gambling Amendment Act was published, which allowed SA players to enjoy interactive gambling. Unfortunately, it met strong opposition from the land-based operators and is yet to be passed into law.

Gambling Laws

Views on Gambling in South Africa

While gambling has been practiced in South Africa for hundreds of years, the country is yet to advance to legal online gambling. In a recent statement from the National Gambling Board (NGB), all forms of gambling are still illegal, except for sports betting. 

The NGB is a regulatory body within the Department of Trade and industrialization. It is ridiculous how the country has failed to legalize internet-based gambling since the publication of the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008. 

Currently, South Africans can only gamble on sports and horse racing events through licensed and regulated websites. It is not only illegal to play at online casinos in South Africa but also to advertise casino promos directly to its residents. 

However, these strict laws have not stopped South Africans from gambling at online casinos. Many sites that are located outside the country allow players to place real money bets on a wide range of casino games. They enjoy this freedom because the NGB deals with the operator and not casino players.

With the availability of online gambling sites and a cheap and stable internet connection, it appears that the National Gambling Board will eventually give in to the people’s demands. This will help the industry to run and offer services transparently, safely, and in a responsible way.

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Online Gambling in South Africa

South Africa has nine provinces that have gambling and racing boards. All sites wishing to provide sports betting options must get a license from one of the boards. Although SA punters can legally bet on sports, 6% is dedicated to horse racing wins to cover for VAT. 

The National Gambling Act of 2004 restricted the provision of engaging in interactive gambling. Even though online casino gaming is illegal, you enjoy some of the live casino options, such as the Lucky 7, Baccarat, and many others.

Today, there are more than 30 fully licensed and regulated online sports betting sites operating in South Africa. Please note that all online forms of gambling are offered to persons 18 years and above.

Horse race betting was still legal in South Africa even after other forms of gambling were banned in the country. Nevertheless, horse racing is just but one of the options available at leading SA sports betting sites. There are many bookmakers that offer pre-match and live betting options to players of all experiences. 

Other than sports betting options, you can wager on other popular sports like football, basketball, volleyball, hockey, and many others. Punters enjoy a wide range of events including popular ones like the Currie Cup, Super Rugby, and ABSA Premiership. Other international events that are available include NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and many others.

Additionally, the best online sportsbooks support mobile betting. Depending on the bookie, you may be required to download an app or access the site directly through standard browsers. 

Gambling Laws in SA

Conclusion

South Africa is one of the few countries that is yet to realize the economic value of legal online casinos and sports betting gambling. The country has been using the same old gambling laws of the 90s despite the peoples’ demands to have them changed. If you are planning to play casino games in SA, make sure you pick a website that is licensed and regulated by a well-respected and recognized authority. It is equally important to keep in mind that you’ll be deducted 6% VAT on horse race betting winnings.

FAQ

The first law that banned gambling in SA was enacted in 1673 at Cape Colony by the Dutch settlers. Since then, all forms of online and offline gambling have been restricted in the country

The National Gambling Board (NGB) is the body within the Department of Trade and Industrialization and has the power to oversee all forms of sports betting and other forms of gambling in South Africa

Although gambling laws in South Africa are very strict, people can still access licensed international sites and play their favourite games without fear of being arrested

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