Most forms of gambling in South Africa have always been heavily limited except for horse racing, which has always been seen as a sporting activity. However, gambling activities still take place, and the main forms of gambling that South African citizens can legally enjoy in their own country include visiting several licensed land-based casinos and playing in the lottery. Certain other forms of gambling are also accepted. There’s an even tougher stance towards online gambling which is prohibited, and although foreign operators have been banned from aiming their business towards South Africans, these casinos still exist, and it’s where many South Africans visit on a regular basis.
Gambling History in South Africa
Despite the Gambling Act of 1965 banning all forms of gambling in the country (with the exception of betting on horse races), South Africans still wanted to gamble and just a few years later, towards the beginning of the ’70s, several land-based casinos started popping up in various locations around the country in places such as Venda, Transkei and Ciskei. In just two decades, it was recorded that there were now more than 2,000 of these illegal venues in operation.
Also around this time, in the mid-’90s, a new Democratic government took office legalizing gambling, and this led to the National Gambling Act of 1996. This legislation was updated less than ten years later when, in 2004, the new National Gambling Acts was introduced. This amended legislation was aimed at being more in line with modern forms of gambling, and it prohibited online gambling. Fast forward a few years to August 2010 when online gambling via offshore servers was also banned in South Africa. The following year a report found that online gambling should be fully regulated in the country, but this has still yet to happen in 2019.
South Africa Gambling & Online Gambling Laws
The main two pieces of legislation that are in place today include the new National Gambling Act of 2004 and the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008. They work side-by-side and are designed to smooth the transition to modern and online gambling. Despite promises from the country’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies that a step towards a regulated and legal online gambling environment was edging closer, there’s still no legal framework in place.
While the National Gaming Board website still clearly states that online gambling at foreign controlled online casinos that operate from outside of South African jurisdiction is technically illegal, there is no law in place in the country that prosecutes players from signing up to and playing in the real money mode at these websites. The government in South Africa also doesn’t actively block every foreign website from aiming their business towards local citizens.
It has been known for the government to confiscate winnings from players, but these are very rare instances, and no players have ever been prosecuted. There are many fully licensed online casinos that do still accept real cash agers from South African players, but the only ones that we would ever recommend visiting are the fully licensed ones. Never play at unlicensed casinos where you are totally unprotected and will have zero legal backing should you require it if an issue ever arises (such as not being able to withdraw your winnings).
Online Casino Benefits to Players from South Africa
The great news for South African players is that they can now sign up to some of the world’s most famous online casinos. This also means that they have access to some of the best online casino games that have been developed by many of the world’s most advanced online casino software providers (e.g. NetEnt, Playtech, Realtime Gaming and others). The main language supported at most of these casinos is always English, plus you also now find that Afrikaans is also supported at a growing number of these casinos.
You can play on the games in the free play demo mode, or the real money mode in your local currency of South African Rand (ZAR). The casinos are free to sign up to, and you can claim some kind of guaranteed new player welcome bonus when you sign up to the casino and make your first ever deposit. A growing number of popular South African online payment options are accepted at today’s best South African online casinos (e.g. credit & debit cards, prepaid cards, e-wallets and cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin) and players have access to round the clock player support (toll-free telephone, email and live chat).
FAQ Useful to Players from South Africa
Are the foreign-controlled online casinos safe for South African players to play at?
Yes, but only the fully licensed ones that are controlled by reputable operators and only ones that are licensed by major online gambling licensing authorities. These top online casinos are monitored by trusted online casino testing agencies, and they’re protected by 256-bit SSL encryption technology.
What kind of payment methods are accepted at South African online casinos?There are generally lots of different online payment methods accepted at these casinos which specifically cater to South African player’s needs.
What happens if I need to get in touch with the casino for whatever reason?When you sign up to a fully licensed South African online casino you will generally have access to a professionally trained network of support agents 24 hours per day. They can often be reached by live chat, email and also by telephone (sometimes toll-free for SA players).
Can I get into trouble for playing at an online casino in the real money mode?As far as we know the police won’t come knocking at your door for gambling in the real money mode at an online casino as there are no laws that directly target the players, plus the casinos themselves do not fall under South African legal jurisdiction.
Online Gambling Highlights in South Africa
- South African players can now enjoy playing at hundreds of the world’s top-rated online casinos, and they’re all free to sign up to
- Play in your local currency of South African Rand and deposit & withdraw using numerous popular South African online payment options
- Play at most SA online casinos either instantly in your web browser or from within a secure download client and enjoy playing at these websites using either a desktop or mobile device
- You can now find lots of games from some of the most advanced online casino software providers in the world, plus lots of new games are frequently being released
- Players from South Africa now have access to some of the world’s biggest online jackpots at these casinos
- You can also count on reliable, friendly & responsive player support 24 hours per day via live chat, email and telephone (generally toll-free)
Problem Gambling Help in South Africa
South African citizens who feel as though they, a friend or family member need advice or treatment for problem gambling can get in touch with several major non-profit organizations and one of the most notable problem gambling organizations is the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRPG) which has been supervised by the SA Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARFG) since early 2009.
There’s also Gamblers Anonymous South Africa, which offers a Recovery Program and a Unity Program and holds regular meetings in and around the Western Cape, Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal. There are lots of other similar reliable websites that South African players can also visit today which tend to have online forums & chat rooms, support lines and other useful problem gambling information, tools & articles, plus free counselling is also often provided.