Are you able to legally gamble online in South Africa, and what about playing at online casinos?
South Africa has the largest gambling market on the continent, and boasts around fifty casinos, including world-class resorts offering the full range of slots and table games, such as roulette, blackjack, craps, and baccarat. There are also hundreds of licensed bookmakers around the country where people can place wagers on horse racing and sporting events, with gamblers even allowed to place sports and horse racing bets online. Nevertheless, online casinos are banned, although online gambling legislation is primarily geared towards the online casinos themselves, and not individual players.
Gambling has been severely restricted in South Africa since 1673, with the first tentative steps towards regulating the industry taken after the Gambling Act of 1965 officially banned all forms of gambling, except for horse betting. In 1996, South Africa subsequently overhauled three centuries of restrictive laws when The National Gambling Act established a National Gambling Board (NGB) and permitted a number of licenced land-based casino operations, as well as an official national lottery.
In 2004, the National Gambling Act was repealed to make online sports and horse race betting legal within the country’s borders following the acquisition of an official license. Meanwhile, all other forms of online gambling became illegal, including casinos, poker and bingo. The National Gambling Amendment Act introduced in 2008 then aimed to legalise and regulate all interactive gambling games, but ultimately failed to pass into law, mostly due to objections put forward by the South African casino industry.
Online casino gambling may be considered illegal under South Africa’s current gambling laws, but players have little to worry about as legislation mainly targets online casino operators, meaning players can still technically gamble online without breaking any specific laws. Although the NGB holds online casino companies solely responsibility for their operations, South Africa has shown little appetite for pursuing any legal action in the past, mostly because forcing the issue is likely to result in the activity being driven further underground, leaving the country’s players completely unprotected and potentially exposed to criminal activity.
Consequently, a good number of highly rated operators continue to offer their online casino services from outside of South Africa, with their site’s holding online gambling licenses granted from reputable jurisdictions, such as Gibraltar, Guernsey, and Malta.
Furthermore, many offer attractive welcome bonuses, promotions, and rewards to South African players.
The National Gambling Board
The National Gambling Board is an agency within the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that is responsible for monitoring and supervising all gambling activities within South Africa, including ensuring that all businesses comply with legislation and uphold the best standards of the industry.
The NGB is also tasked, whenever necessary, with investigating the issuing of national licenses by individual regulatory bodies throughout the country’s nine provinces. Gambling operators are free to offer their online sports and horse racing services in South Africa provided they first obtain a national license from a provincial licensing authority, with the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board (WCGRB) currently the biggest issuer having granted 32 online licenses to date.