The land-based casino industry in south Africa is a huge money business – over R30 billion per year. There are currently about 40 land-based casinos across the country, from the smaller ones in outlying towns to the mega-resorts like Monte Casino and Sun City, all offering a rich choice of casino games for gamblers from every walk of life.
South Africa has three major casino holding companies that own and operate the vast majority of our casinos and resorts: Sun International, Tsogo Sun, and Peermont. While Tsogo definitely controls the biggest footprint and seems to have the most ‘premium’ casinos on its books, Sun International is a multi-national giant. Peermont holds only two meg-resorts in its portfolio, Emperors Palace and The Grand Palm (although The Grand Palm is in Gaborone, Botswana) but makes up for it with a big (and quality) presence in outlying towns like Bethlehem, Mahikeng, Secunda, etc.
With such a huge choice of casinos on offer it can be difficult to choose a ‘best’ casino. Especially when you start looking at things like floor size, number of games, resort size, entertainment options, and so on. Do we choose a casino based on how big it is? Do we look at what else it has to offer apart from gaming? Does it have to have a hotel? Or a conference centre? Is size just the casino floor or does it include the entire casino complex? What about the attached grounds of a resort?
So, to make our lives less complicated, the CasinoPlay crew have decided to limit our criteria to just focus on the casino itself and put aside the golf courses, spas and other sundries that make up an entertainment destination.
We are focused on what the South African gamblers would look for in a casino not a family getaway – although we might take some time to explore a casino list that includes non-gambling events and entertainment in the near future!
More famous for its historic gold mine tours and rollercoaster theme park, Gold Reef City in Johannesburg offers a really good casino experience for players. The casino has over 1,500 slot machines and 47 table games including blackjack, American roulette, baccarat and Raise ‘em poker.
The casino is split into various sections: a smoker’s casino, a non-smokers casino (main floor), a Salon Privé that includes a private baccarat room, and an exclusive Private Slots area.
Designed in line with the Joburg Gold Rush motif that is the hallmark of the bigger Gold Reef City complex, this casino is not as well-known as some of the bigger ones out there but offers a solid and classy option for players.
A well-known venue for fans of boxing, travellers looking for somewhere close to the airport to stay, conferences, and of course a rather sizeable casino. Emperors Palace in Gauteng is a mainstay of the gambler’s palaces in South Africa, a massive place with a 1,710 slot machines and 69 table games.
But sometimes size is just too much.
The decadent Roman-themed décor is a testament to big. It’s a big place just like that ancient Empire. Where some of our favourite casinos offer a Salon Privé where players can enjoy exclusivity, Emperors has a main casino floor, FOUR semi-private areas (Velarium Casino, Emperors Club Casino, Emporium Casino, Victorium Casino), and THREE ‘exclusive’ Privé areas (Slots Privé, Salon Privé, Garden Court Privé).
Still, it does serve to keep guests entertained in an area that is not the most attractive in terms of scenery and natural wonders. Regular slots tournaments and high stakes poker competitions also keep the serious players returning to this bastion of betting bonanzas.
But it is an insane destination for gamblers so if quantity is your thang, Emperors is certainly going to keep you extremely happy!
Sun Coast Casino is one of the original big casinos that were available to South Africans when gambling at licensed venues became a thing. While the casino certainly delivers on the size aspect – 1,800 slot machines and 71 table games – it does feel a little dated.
Although, it also offers an amazing Salon Privé with views over Durban’s Golden Mile and the famous Durban coastline.
The slots are state-of-the-art, the tables offerings include blackjack, Raise ‘em poker, Texas Hold ‘em poker, baccarat and American roulette, and the Salon Privé has a great selection of tables and slots (and an incredibly art deco vibe that is pure class!).
Durban is a major tourist destination, and the casino can become a busy place at peak times. If you have the bankroll to play at the Salon Privé, we highly recommend you do it. The décor, the views, the sheer opulence really makes it a stand-out feature for the casino.
SilverStar Casino is a relative newcomer to the casino market in South Africa and attracts a crowd from the more outlying areas of Gauteng like Krugersdorp. Magaliesburg, Roodepoort, and Muldersdrift. Maybe it’s the newness, maybe it’s the attention to detail, maybe it’s the efforts the casino goes to when it comes to enticing and retaining players. Whatever the reason, SilverStar is a refreshing alternative to some of the more established casinos in the area.
With about 1,000 slot machines and 45 table games, most punters will find something to keep them occupied. The Salon Privé offers a small selection of slots (140) and tables (12) but is really well laid out and comfortable. The main floor gives you a choice of blackjack, baccarat, American roulette, and Raise ‘em poker games.
There are much bigger casinos on offer, but SilverStar goes beyond the expected when it comes to friendly, professional, and consistent service. They make their unique value their customer satisfaction and it shows. Players at SilverStar are made to feel important and it goes a long way to creating an awesome gambling experience.
While most casino mega-complexes build entertainment around the casino floor, Time Square is a casino inside an entertainment and shopping complex. Part of the Menlyn Maine shopping and entertainment complex in Pretoria, Time Square is also a relatively new gambling destination having opened in 2018. It offers over 2,000 slot machines and 60 table games across two gaming floors, a smoking area, a non-smoking area, and a Salon Privé.
What makes Time Square so popular with gamblers is the number of promotions they run. Being part of a larger shopping and entertainment complex means they have regular players returning on a regular basis, players who may spend some time in the casino while the rest of the family are occupied elsewhere, so they have regular and rewarding bonuses and promos every day.
Time Square is a solid and well-run casino that is easy to get to and fun to play at.
Sibaya Casino in the sugarcane-covered hills north of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal is a stunning gamblers attraction. Away from the larger centre of Durban itself, close to the airport, and with amazing views over rolling hills to the ocean, Sibaya offers that little bit extra that pushes it into our top 5 – elegance, variety, and surroundings.
The casino offers 1,286 slot machines (including some really cool touch-bet Roulette machines) and 48 gaming tables for lovers of baccarat, poker, blackjack and roulette.
There are the usual smoking and non-smoking areas, and a Salon Privé with an incredible vista, but it’s the air of luxury and attention to detail all wrapped in an unashamedly Royal African decor that makes it one of our favourite destinations when we go down to that KZN coast.
Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth) is famous for a few things: the 1820 Settlers, the second-oldest city in South Africa. The wind, and the fact that it is a sleepy little city when compared to Durban, Cape Town, or Johannesburg. But that doesn’t mean it can’t offer some thrilling times, especially if you visit the Boardwalk Casino.
Boardwalk Casino is a palace of pleasures all located in a Victorian-era themed complex. And true to the theme, Boardwalk offers some of the classiest casino experiences we’ve come across. Everything at Boardwalk has a touch of elegance, an air of a bygone appreciation for quality. From its 900 slot machines to its 24 tables to the super-exclusive, private entrance, Salon Privé, Boardwalk just makes you feel like the ultimate VIP!
And you only need to step over the road to experience the stunning Eastern Cape beaches and coastline.
We can hear the outcry from here! How is Sun City, South Africa’s first and most famous casino at #3?!
First, calm down. Second, we LOVE Sun City. Third, we’re looking at the casino as a separate entity to the rest of the resort’s offerings! As a vacation and entertainment destination, Sun City would be at the top of the list. But its casino, while still a magnet for gamblers, is not quite as good as the top two on our list.
Sun City Casino offers hundreds of slot machines and over 40 table games in a recently refurbished casino. It also offers an exclusive Salon Privé and, one of our favourite little extras, the International Privé which is a select lounge for skilled players and high stakes table games.
Sun City has been a mainstay of the gambling scene since it started up in 1979 and still offers a superb gambling experience but let’s be honest, even if it is a heresy for gamblers, it really does offer much more than just gambling. In fact, there is so much to do at this incredible resort that gambling can sometimes come third or fourth on the list of things to do!
Skande, we know. But true, nevertheless.
It was a tight fight for the#1 spot, and we thought that GrandWest Casino was going to take it based purely on the number of games they offer. This Western Cape icon brings the heat to Capetonians with over 1,800 slot machines and over 50 table games. They pride themselves on being the biggest casino in South Africa, but we think this may relate more to its floor size than its actual games offering.
GrandWest offers an exclusive Slots Privé and a Tables Privé for select gamblers but it’s the high stakes Captain’s Cabin and the big money roulette, blackjack, and baccarat tables that make GrandWest a true gambler’s delight.
While Cape Town has a host of natural and entertainment attractions on offer for visitors, any gambler worth his stake will want to spend some time at this prestigious casino.
Built for gamblers. That’s the be all and end all of Monte Casino. Yes, there are a ton of other things on offer like fine dining and theatre and concerts and arcades and bowling and movies, but Monte Casino is designed and built to bring in the players.
It sits at the centre of Joburg’s most popular entertainment destination – and it never sleeps. Over 1,700 slot machines, 83 table games including blackjack, baccarat, Traditional poker, Raise ‘em poker, American roulette, and craps.
There is a smoking casino and a non-smoking casino.
And there is a dedicated Poker Lounge offering Texas Hold ‘em.
Plus, of course, a Salon Privé with 25 tables for high stakes players (up to R10,000 denominations – Jozi is the City of Gold!).
While GrandWest is often touted as the biggest casino in South Africa, a glance at the games on offer from Monte Casino seems to indicate otherwise. But beyond the number of games, Monte changed the nature of gambling in Gauteng and led to a revolution in how other casinos in South Africa went about their business, pushing them to up their game in order to compete. and this is why we rate it as the Best Land-based Casino in South Africa.