It’s almost like you can’t escape them… They’re everywhere! Are you innocently watching some Hot Ones on YouTube but every ad is for some app called Megaslotzzzzzzz? Are you trying to get a free reward in your hidden object game by watching an ad and suddenly getting bombarded by dancing piggies offering promises of free riches? Everywhere you turn, it seems like another online casino or slots app is itching to throw bonuses at you to get you to sign up. How many of these are even legal in South Africa, and what recourse do you have if you get swindled by a scammer? In this article, we’ll take a look at those questions and also give you a quick guide to some of SA’s top legitimate, legal online betting operators.
Guys, we’re sorry to break it to you, but in many cases, the short answer is no. Obviously, though, where there are laws, there are lawmakers, and it’s a whole lot more complicated than the short answer.
A (very) brief history of gambling in South Africa
Gambling laws in South Africa have been in place since 1673, but the country’s Gambling Act of 1965 led to an official ban on all forms of betting, apart from betting on the outcome of horse races. Despite the ban, thousands of illegal casinos began to spring up in the bantustans, areas reserved by the government of the time for black South Africans.
However, in 1994, with a new government in power, all forms of gambling became legal in South Africa and the National Gambling Act of 1996 was passed. This act introduced the National Gambling Board as a regulatory body to ensure the proper regulation and coordination of all gambling activity in the country. Nine Provincial Licensing Authorities were established by the act and are responsible for considering and reviewing applications, giving licences in respect of gambling, racing, casinos, and wagering, and ensuring licence holders comply with the Act. This has opened up more opportunities for gambling and sports betting in South Africa, and today, people can enjoy a range of legal gambling activities with more choice and security.
The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 was introduced to legalise interactive gambling in South Africa but faced strong opposition from land-based casinos and is yet to be passed into law. In 2010, the government also announced that online gambling offered through servers outside of the country would be banned.
Today, gambling and sports betting are legal in South Africa, with licences issued and regulated by the nine Provincial Licensing Authorities (PLAs) and overseen by the NGB. This means that South African players have more choice and security when it comes to online gambling, allowing them to experience the thrill and excitement of casino gaming without the fear of reprisals.
Gambling is a popular pastime in South Africa, and the country offers plenty of opportunities for those looking for a bit of thrill and excitement. In 1996, the National Gambling Act was introduced to legalise the activity, although it did not account for evolving technology.
Online sports betting is legal in South Africa, although the National Gambling Act does not specifically address it. The Act outlines activities that are not disallowed and the criminal sanctions that may follow. Online poker is technically illegal, although no one has yet been prosecuted for playing it on international platforms.
The National Gambling Board has also banned all forms of online lottery activities, meaning that it is currently not legal to play lottery games online in South Africa.
Online gambling laws in South Africa remain murky, and it is important for players to remember that they could face fines of up to R10 million or a jail sentence for breaking the rules.
However, there are still many online gambling operators offering their services in the country. If you are looking for some fun and excitement, it’s important to be aware of the legal implications and to only use operators that are legally registered in South Africa. This way, you can enjoy your gambling experience with the peace of mind that you are playing within the law.
Thankfully, there are a number of online gambling operators who do have licences to operate legally, and online, in South Africa. They are all registered by either national or provincial gambling boards. You will quickly notice that all of these operators focus quite heavily on sports betting, as this is the main reason they are able to get licences. Another thing you will notice is the prevalence of live dealer games. While these are usually powered by big gaming tech companies such as Evolution, they are licensed to that casino and are therefore legal to play.
The following online casinos and sports betting operators are legally registered in South Africa:
Play.co.za is operated by Betflash (Pty) LTD. (Reg: 2011/135672/07) is licenced by the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board. Licence Number: 10172287-011
Ortapa 2 (Pty) Ltd t/a Supabets (Reg: 2009/016148/07) is licensed by Mpumalanga Gambling Board. Licence Number: 9-2-1-00055
Hollywoodbets.net and Hollywoodbets.mobi are licenced by the Gauteng Gambling Board, the Limpopo Gambling Board and the Mpumalanga Economic Regulator, with specific products licensed by KwaZulu-Natal Gambling Board and Western Cape Gambling Board
Raging River Trading (Pty) Ltd (Reg: 2011/134505/07) licensed to promote Betway South Africa, is licensed and regulated by the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board. Bookmaker Licence Number: 10181496-009
Gbets is operated by Dymanex (PTY) Ltd (Reg: 2012-121-966-07). Licensed by the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board.
LottoStar (Pty) Ltd (Reg: 2007/011071/07) is licensed and regulated by the Mpumalanga Economic Regulator. Licence Number 9-2-1-09467.
Many of you may be frustrated to learn that so many of those seemingly legitimate, and even honestly pretty good, operators are not technically legal in South Africa. However, there is hope on the horizon as those in favour of legalising all forms of online gambling in South Africa continue to fight for the relevant laws to be passed. For now, the best you can do is support those operators who have gone to the effort of complying with legislation, and consider adding your voice to supporting the legalisation of online gambling in SA.