Skip the Headaches and Play at a Legitimate Site
Gambling in South Africa was illegal for much of the country’s existence, due to laws enacted by several European colonial governments. The Dutch were the first to outlaw gambling in 1673, and the British followed suit in 1965. Between the passing of those prohibitions and 1996, almost all forms of wagering, including South African gambling sites, were forbidden. The only form of wagering allowed was horse racing – except for some casinos operating in independent “bantustans.”
Since the removal of the apartheid regime, South Africa has been more open to gambling. The country is home to casinos, bingo parlors, slot shops, a national lottery, and sportsbooks spread across their nine provincial regions. The only thing their gambling market leaves to be desired is a more open online South African gambling site industry, as the current restrictions only allow for sports betting over the web.
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Despite the legislation barring online gambling in South Africa, the use of offshore operators is exceedingly popular in the country, so much so that in 2018, the national government began exploring a bill that would drastically increase the punishments for players and providers alike caught running or using an unlicensed domain within SA’s borders.
At the time this guide was written, the controversial new measures have yet to be passed. In the meantime, there are several other factors related to online gambling that are more urgent, such as avoiding scammers.
Why Are These Sites Recommended?
Before a gambling site may be included as one of the best South African gambling websites, they must first pass a lengthy review process. LegitGamblingSites.com employs a large team of gaming experts, each of whom has years of experience in some sector of the gaming industry. In the following section, we’ll examine a few of the required attributes that we demand from a gambling operator on behalf of our readers.
History, Reputation, and Legitimacy
Before we send our readers to a South African online gambling site, it’s critical that we first verify that it’s a safe, secure, and reliable option. The web-based gambling market has become a global powerhouse, generating tens of billions in revenue – and growing – each year. With so much cash being transmitted over the internet, the industry naturally attracts scammers, preying upon beginners who don’t know where to look for the best providers.
Our team thoroughly researches each domain’s background, including the owners behind the South African gambling sites. We make sure they haven’t owned blacklisted websites in the past and that their former users don’t have a pattern of complaints regarding unethical practices.
Bonuses and Players’ Rewards Programs
Bonuses are how the best gambling sites in South America and all gaming markets attract new customers. The marketplace is incredibly competitive, so even the best locations are forced to compete for your attention. Ultimately, this works out to be a tremendous advantage for our readers.
Even the easiest-to-get sign-up and deposit bonuses can be valued at thousands of dollars. In fact, some of our recommended gambling websites match 100% or more of the initial deposit for a new account.
Loyalty rewards programs keep the gifts coming. As you continue to take part in your usual gambling activities, you earn points that can be exchanged for cash back, merchandise, gift cards, luxury vacations, and more.
Fast Payouts and Fair to Winners
The problem with gambling with the wrong operators is that they often don’t reveal themselves as scammers until you’re trying to cash out. Unethical operators will use a range of strategies designed to block winning players’ wagers or delay payouts, if not canceling them entirely.
One conventional technique is to accuse the customer of being a professional gambler and of violating the terms and conditions, which is then used to cancel any wagers that would otherwise have earned a large payout.
Another is to purposely delay processing withdrawals by failing to respond to customer cash-out requests or by enforcing absurdly low payout limits. The thought behind these actions is that the customer will get bored waiting for a response and begin gambling with their winnings instead of waiting for the money to be transferred.
The South African gambling sites that we recommend have proven to treat winners fairly and avoid questionable behaviors that make the player’s life more difficult.
Variety of Games
The website(s) you eventually open an account with should do an excellent job of keeping you engaged and entertained by providing a wide variety of events and wagers, whether you’re a fan of casino games, slot machines, and/or sports bets. We hold these standards for South African online casinos and sportsbooks both.
When it comes to using casinos on the internet, we look for domains with a bevy of slot and video poker themes, staking denominations, and jackpot types. The same requirements are applied to traditional table games as well. The best websites can offer alternative versions of classic games – with unique side bets and styles of play – including computerized or live dealer options.
Our top sportsbooks set betting lines for a wide range of events and sports leagues. Additionally, we rank South African gambling sites higher when they offer multiple choices for wagers within each contest. For example, we like to see point spreads, moneyline wagers, totals, parlays, futures, prop bets, and more.
Is Gambling Legal in South Africa?
Yes, it is. Since 1996, following the repeal of South Africa’s apartheid laws, the nation has regulated various forms of gaming via the National Gambling Act. Before these historical changes in the country, betting was heavily restricted, dating back to 1673 when the Dutch outlawed the activities at Cape Colony.
In 1965, all forms of gaming besides horse racing were officially banned. However, in the ’70s, casinos began popping up in four regions called bantustans. These were independent homeland areas populated exclusively by native South Africans, and the majority of the nation’s citizens did not have access to these operations.
Since 1996, South Africa has continued to cultivate and shape their local gaming industry with the passing of numerous additional laws and regulations. The primary regulatory body is the National Gambling Board. They are responsible for monitoring compliance with the applicable statutes, operating the national lottery, and ensuring the country’s nine provinces get a fair distribution of South Africa’s 40 gambling licenses.
Casinos are legal and can be found in every major metropolitan city in South Africa. The largest – which also happens to be the biggest casino on the continent – is the Rio Casino Resort, a 266,330 square foot property located in Klerksdorp, South Africa.
All of the traditional casino games may be found in South African casinos. Slot machines, poker, blackjack, roulette, and all of the classics are legally available. The machine-based forms of gaming must all comply with nationally-defined standards and be registered in a government database. They can be audited at any time, providing protection for consumers who can reasonably rely on the software being fair.
Licensing for casinos is done at the provincial level, though these state governments are first given the licenses from the National Gambling Board.
Lotteries are also legal and have been since 2000 when the Lottery Act was passed. The National Lottery is South Africa’s most popular form of gambling, bringing in over five million purchases per week. In 2019, the lotto is expected to generate $1.6 billion (US).
The licensed operator chosen to run South Africa’s National Lottery is granted a monopoly over the market. They are then required to pay a percentage of their revenue to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. A dedicated regulatory agency then accepts requests from various funds, charities, and interest groups and decides how to allocate the funds for the betterment of the country.
Sports betting is entirely legal both at land-based sportsbooks and online. Licenses for bookmakers are provided at the provincial level. Some of South Africa’s favorite games to bet on are rugby, football (soccer), golf, and horse racing, as well as sports unique to the region such as Jukskei.
Horse racing remains legal, though it no longer enjoys its status as the only legal gaming activity. Sportsbook operators are legally obligated to withhold 6% of patrons’ earnings for betting on horses. Those proceeds are then split between the provincial government and totalizator provider in an effort to subsidize the racing industry.
Online gambling sites in South Africa have become a hotly contested subject. While web-based sports wagers are widely accepted, the same cannot be said for casino games. For a time, operators were merely hosting their domains in nearby Swaziland and offering online poker, slots, and casino games to South African citizens.
This was eventually challenged by the Gauteng Gambling Board, one of the country’s provincial government. Finally, in 2010, the High Court ruled that accessing offshore gambling sites in South Africa is illegal. However, these rulings did not have the intended effect, and illegal web-based gaming grew in popularity.
These laws are in place to this day and threaten to get stricter. In late 2018, a bill was proposed that would increase the punishments for accessing illegal gambling sites for both players and operators. For example, winnings from unlawful gaming websites will be subject to confiscation, should these new laws pass.
South African Gambling Laws
South Africa’s gambling laws have evolved quite a bit over time. Below is a brief summary of some of the most influential laws affecting gambling in South Africa.
National Gambling Act, 1996
Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Act, 1997
Free State Gambling and Racing Act, 1996
Gauteng Gambling Act, 1995, as amended
KwaZulu-Natal Gambling Act, 1996
Mpumalanga Gambling Act, 1995
The North West Casino, Gaming and Betting Act, 1994
Northern Cape Gambling and Racing Act, 1996
Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act, 1996
Lotteries Act, 1997
South Africa’s History with Gambling
At the same time, this act legalizes online sports and horse race betting. However, the operator must be licensed by one of the nine provincial governments.
While this bill has been passed, it was never enacted. An appeal is expected to be heard by a high court, at which time it could be signed into law. However, legislative trends in the country appear to be heading in the opposite direction while this appeal awaits.
Additionally, land-based locations would be forced to hide the entry to their establishments. Also, the legislation would ask financial institutions to monitor and block any transactions between account holders and offshore gambling sites.
There are many opponents to this law, worried that it will do nothing but chase away legitimate foreign providers without stopping the use of illegal unlicensed domains.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is gambling legal in South Africa?
Yes. Brick-and-mortar casinos, bingo halls, slot machines, lotteries, horse racing, and sports betting are all legal in South Africa. Legally, you may wager on sports over the internet, but the same cannot be said for web-based casino games – or any other activities considered “gambling” rather than “betting.”
What are the risks involved with using a gambling website outside of South Africa’s borders?
Since 2010, there have been laws in place restricting online gambling. Individuals, as well as casino sites, ISPs, and the banks that process payments, are subject to hefty fines and up to 10 years of imprisonment.
Does South Africa tax winnings from gambling?
Yes, but the percentages of taxation are decided at the state level. Winnings from slot machines, sportsbooks, bingo operators, and horse racing are all taxed. In most cases, the taxes are withheld by the gambling provider at the time of cashing out.
Who licenses the regulated and legal online gambling sites in South Africa?
The National Gambling Board issues the licenses to the nine provincial governments, each of which has its own local regulatory authority. Those state regulators then determine which providers get permits. The exception is the National Lottery, a privately-owned monopoly that’s awarded by the National Lottery Commission.
Here are South Africa’s many regulatory authorities and their websites:
- The National Gambling Board
- The National Lotteries Commission
- Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board
- Northern Cape Gambling Board
- KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board
- Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board
- Limpopo Gambling Board
- North West Gambling Board
- Gauteng Gambling Board
- Free State Gambling and Liquor Authority
- Mpumalanga Gambling Board
- National Responsible Gambling Programme