South Africa

South African Flag

Since the Gambling Act of 1965, all forms of betting and gambling were completely restricted in South Africa (excluding horse racing bets), and it wasn’t until a new Government came into power back in 1994 that the gambling laws were relaxed. With new laws passed in-line with the new Government’s approach towards more leniency towards gambling, land-based casinos begun appearing throughout the country, and the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 essentially ‘made legal’ most forms of gambling, as well as setting forth the relevant regulation companies must follow when offering services to South African residents.

Legal Types of Gambling in South Africa

The only legally-allowed form of online gambling is Sports Betting. Casino Games, Lotteries, and Poker remain illegal online (although permitted in certain land-based venues), and this was enshrined by a landmark 2010 Supreme Court case, which ruled that all forms of online gambling aside from Sports betting is illegal, although many South African players openly flout the law, with authorities doing little to prevent it. While we cannot condone breaking the law (online gambling is illegal in South Africa, as explained), this article covers online gambling companies that accept South African players, with the view of offering unbiased, but un-recommended advice on online casino gaming within South Africa.

South African Gambling Laws, Rules, and Regulations

All gambling activity within South Africa is regulated by the National Gaming Board – often abbreviated to the NGB. Established in 1996 in line with new legislation from the Government, the National Gaming Board is part of the Gaming Regulators Africa Forum, which is a collective of ten African countries than fight against unlawful gambling activities, taking a particular emphasis on illegal bookmakers (who often are coined as 'loan sharks' by media).

In terms of online gambling, as mentioned, there are no online gambling regulations in South Africa, due to the fact it’s illegal, but with hundreds of companies flouting the law (operating out of South Africa themselves), and with even more offshore casinos accepting South African players, it appears the Internet is out of the authority’s reach. In fact, even though players and operators alike realize that gambling is illegal, prosecutions are scarce, with the responsibility lying with the banks and payment processors – NOT the casinos or players.

Interestingly to note, is that no player has ever been arrested or charged with unlawfully playing at an online casino – and while this by no means should act as encouragement for you to gamble from South Africa – it does go to show that the government will only go after companies who process financial transactions (and possibly the operators), rather than players.

Software and Games

There are a large number of online casinos that accept South African players, with Apollo Slots, Caisno.com, LuckLand, Gday, Europa, Omni, Black Diamond, Winner Casino, and Jackpot Cash being some of the more reputable names. It’s important to note that if you are going to break the law and gamble online from South Africa, you’d be wise to choose a reputable company with a valid gambling license from a reputable provider.

Many South African accepting casinos hold a Government of Curacao casino license, who are, themselves, a highly-reputable regulator. If you do decide to gamble online within South Africa, it is also wise to choose a website that accepts – directly – payments in ZAR, as this allows you to deposit, game, and withdraw in your home currency.

Taxation Laws

South African residents only pay taxation on horse racing wins (which actually have a 6% tax built into the returns). Winnings from land-based casino games, and poker games are not taxable, and the same would apply to online gambling, in line with current legislation, were it legal. Due to the fact online gambling is illegal, South African residents who flout the law would be unwise to declare their winnings to authorities.

The Future of Gambling in South Africa

While the directive the South African Government wish to take with online casino gaming is unclear, mounting public pressure and lobbying from campaigners is growing strong, and much like the United States of America, there are pushes for online gambling to be legalised and regulated. In fact, there have been recent introductions in the South African Parliament, in which Government representatives pushing for Parliament to allow South African players to enjoy casino games in safety, although at the time of writing, the situation remains unchanged.

With an estimated 5% of South African having gambling illegally online, millions of residents obviously push for reform, and this could be the leading factor in legalisation. The bottom line is that playing casino games online in South Africa is illegal, and if you do so you are putting yourself at risk of prosecution. However, that said, the law – as seen above – is more focused on South African companies operating illegally, and playing at offshore casinos is generally regarded as ‘safe’ – not one arrest or prosecution has arisen due to a South African resident flouting the law, but remember it is illegal, so only take the risk if you are prepared for potential consequences.

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Disclaimer: Please note that the legality of gambling online varies between countries and it is your responsibility to verify that your actions are legal in the country you reside. Please play responsibly - if you feel you may have a problem and need advice please visit Gamble Aware (UK) or Gamblers Anonymous.