Gambling in SA: Everything You Need to Know


You’ve probably played the lotto before or heard a friend of a friend mention how much he expects to win after putting a few bucks down on his favourite Premier League team. And you’ve most certainly visited or have driven past a casino or two in Joburg. No matter where you learned about it, you know what gambling is – both online and on-site. 

But how much do you really know about betting in the Rainbow Nation and the best gambling options here? 

The History of Gambling in South Africa 

Like the bulk of our history as a nation, gambling is, too, a complicated subject. Before 1996, all forms of gambling were strictly prohibited – except for horseracing. The only way to play slots in South Africa was in a smoky backroom that only a select few knew about. However, in 1996, The National Gambling Act was passed based on advice given to our government by the Wiehahn Commission in 1995. The Wiehahn Commission recommended that our government regulate gambling in South Africa for economic reasons. 

A year later, the Lotteries Act 57 of 1997 was passed, and the National Lottery Board was born. Speaking of which – The Lottery as a whole has quite an interesting history itself. In the Chinese Han Dynasty, a game called keno was quite popular, and money collected from these lotteries was said to have financed major government projects like The Great Wall. During the Roman Empire in Europe, lotteries started as dinner-party entertainment for the rich. Funds from ticket sales were used to repair the City of Rome, and unfortunately, winners were given prizes that were valued below the total winning amount. 

Many years later, after gambling was legalised in South Africa, the hotel-casino business started booming! Currently, there are about 38 licensed casinos across the country, 7 of which are based in Gauteng. In 2021-2022, the Gross Gambling Revenue (total amount casinos make after payouts to players) was reported to be a whopping R34.43 billion for South African casinos. That’s ‘billion’ with a ‘B’. 

But what about the players who don’t want to, or physically can’t leave the house? According to the National Gambling Board, “Online betting is legal with a licensed South African bookmaker.” In simpler terms, sports betting is okay, but playing other games online is a bit of a grey area. 

How South Africans Can Play Casino Games Online

The laws surrounding online betting in South Africa are a little unclear in some parts. For example, the Remote Gambling Bill of 2014 was submitted for review and failed to go through, thus making online casinos illegal for the time being. On the other hand, sports betting through platforms like Betway, Hollywoodbets, and Supabets is completely legal. Similarly, playing bingo online via Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs) in Gauteng is allowed as well. 

However, playing casino games and placing bets online remains a grey area in the country, and as such, many of the best online casinos in South Africa are the offshore platforms that have stepped in to fill the huge demand from excited players who want to try their luck.  

With or without a VPN, you can have access to some of the best online casinos in South Africa. As long as the casino is registered offshore, bettors from all over the world, including South Africa can play and enjoy their favorite games. Most legal online casinos that players from South Africa enjoy utilizing are registered in countries with looser laws such as Curacao, Germany, Malta, Cypress, and Sweden. 

Payment Methods for South African Online Casinos

Online casinos have a number of different deposit and withdrawal methods that are easily accessible to South Africans. You can use your debit or credit card, bank transfer, cryptocurrency, and digital e-wallets. Transactions between you and the casino should be safe and encrypted. Choose a payment option or platform that suits your needs, and play to your heart’s content. 

Games to Play in South Africa 

Slot machines rule­ the roost in South African casinos. Both online and on-the-ground playe­rs get to enjoy these­ colorful, fun-filled games. Slots come in all sorts – from thre­e-reel classics to the­ latest video versions fe­aturing exciting bonus rounds. Some popular slots like Me­ga Moolah and Cleopatra come with big jackpots that could change your life. Yet, the classic table game­s like blackjack, poker, and roulette­ have their fanbase too. The­y offer a traditional and strategic gameplay experience. So, when choosing a game­ in a South African casino, there are plenty of choices to fit every player’s whim. 

A Balanced Lifestyle with Betting 

The act of gambling responsibly includes taking frequent breaks and playing with money you can afford to lose. You can also set financial and time-based limits for yourself when playing. If you’d like to set limits for yourself when playing online, you can either set betting limits and trust yourself not to exceed them, or contact the casino’s customer support and ask them to lock on your account. The key is to have fun while playing and balance your gaming activities with other activities that you enjoy. 

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