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Gambling in South Africa has been a controversial subject for many years, and there are multiple gambling restrictions in place compared to at other international casinos that require some attention, if you plan to gamble as a SA national. Despite this, the gambling industry is booming and South Africans living both in-country and abroad are participating in gambling activities. If this is something you’re interested in, it’s important to know what is available to South African players, how to play, and what the law says about online casino gambling. Let’s dig deeper.
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Finding the Best South African Casinos Online
Before we dive into the wonderful world of gambling in South Africa, it is essential to cover the basics by understanding what is legally expected of you. South Africa has very strict gambling laws, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t gamble legally! The key is knowledge, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on here.
South Africa’s Gambling Act of 1965 was the start of what would become a heavy ban on gambling throughout the country. Only horse racing remained permitted as it was considered a sporting activity rather than gambling, and the ban caused a dramatic spike in illegal gambling activity.
In 1996, the National Gambling Act announced new changes that would classify horse racing as gambling, while also putting a casino licensing system into place that would make it possible for certain gambling institutions to operate legally in South Africa.
The National Gambling Board was established during this time, along with the National Lottery which still exists today.
A gambling and racing board exists for each of the 9 provinces in South Africa, and all gambling houses, casinos and betting institutions are required to be licensed by one of these boards in order to operate. What this means for South African players is that they can legally gamble at any of these sites, but not anywhere else.
It has been a bumpy road for online gambling in South Africa. The National Gambling Act 2004 banned all types of gambling on the internet, except for gambling at betting sites with the licences mentioned above. For a few years, this ban did not apply to gambling sites located outside the country, but this changed with the 2010 National Gambling Act.
The 2010 National Gambling Act put an abrupt halt to online gambling as it’s known in many other parts of the world, and SA players could no longer gamble at foreign gambling sites without breaking the law.
Today, 30+ online betting sites in South Africa are licensed by the NGB and the board in that specific province, and gambling at offshore betting sites and casinos remain illegal. Note that these rules only apply to South Africans living in or being temporarily based in South Africa, and that South Africans based abroad can gamble at international casinos.
The largest land-based casino in South Africa is Rio Casino Resort, and it is currently not only the biggest casino in the country, but the 5th biggest land-based casino on the planet. Another large SA casino is the Tsogo Sun Monte Casino, and other casinos can be found throughout the nation.
Legalities of Gambling in South Africa
With the requirement of betting sites and casinos in South Africa needing a province board licence comes one positive outcome, and that is the safety aspect for you as a South African gambler. As long as you stick to one of the legal sites, you can be sure that it’s properly monitored and regulated, with fair games and reliable payouts.
If you are a South African located abroad with the legal right to sign up and gamble at international sites, you will want to keep an eye out for casino licences such as those issued by the Malta Gaming Authority and the UK Gambling Commission, but this is irrelevant for those located in SA as only SA issued licences are valid to make a site legal.
Strict gambling laws have many benefits, but it also comes with a dark side where illegal gambling is allowed the opportunity to flourish. South Africa currently has thousands of gambling sites operating illegally, and the biggest issue with these is that they are unlicensed and unregulated, and therefore unable to provide a safe gambling environment for players.
It can be tempting to join an illicit gambling site since other casino gambling may be unavailable, but it is unwise to do so. The 2008 Gambling Act of SA included a more relaxed approach to online gambling, but it was never put into place. Many are now anticipating it to finally happen within the next few years.
Popular Games in South Africa
Studies show that the gambling type with the highest national participation in South Africa is currently the National Lottery, which at the time of the performed study had a participation rate of 96.9%. In the same study, it was found that the lottery was followed in popularity by slots, scratch cards and horse racing.
That said, there are also many South Africans who prefer other types of games, such as slots and table games, but it is believed that their popularity would rise significantly if it wasn’t for the strict gambling restrictions currently existing in the country.
Bonuses at South African Casinos
The gambling sites available in South Africa often offer bonuses to both new and returning players, just like international gambling sites. You can expect to come across generous welcome bonuses such as cash match deposit bonuses, free spins and special deals, along with attractive rewards for loyal casino gamblers. VIP clubs and cashback programmes are excellent examples.
Unlicensed gambling sites may offer bonuses that sound almost too good to be true, and unfortunately, chances are that they are. With non-existing regulations, there are no guarantees that these sites will follow through on their promises, which is yet another reason why you should stay clear of these types of sites.
The general setup of online gambling is different in South Africa due to the many restrictions, but there are still many features you can’t escape. If your gambling or betting site comes with bonuses, then chances are those bonuses have wagering requirements attached. Always read through terms and conditions carefully, so that you know what you’re signing up for if you choose to accept a bonus.
Casino Payment Methods in SA
How you pay matters, and in South Africa, some online payment methods are more popular than others, and it’s something that you can take into consideration when choosing your preferred gambling sites. If you are currently in South Africa, then your choices of online casinos are somewhat limited due to existing laws, but payment methods are something you won’t have to worry about. There are plenty to choose from.
Bank cards remain a very popular payment method in SA, possibly because of its availability and how many people have access to some type of a payment card, but it is safe to say e-wallets and other contactless payment methods are on the rise!
We are going to have a look at some of the payment methods that are frequently used by South African players, both those living in the country and those living abroad. You might even have a preferred payment method, but you can still benefit from having a basic idea of what your options are. All our recommended payment methods allow payments with ZAR.
In South Africa, it is very common to have a bank card from any of the major banks, and these are usually VISA or Mastercards. The benefits here are the safety features that come with card payments, along with the availability. Almost everyone has one, and it is a familiar payment method that gamblers rely on for this reason.
The downside is that you need access to your card number when you want to make a deposit, and you run the risk of accidentally exposing your card number if you tend to gamble in public areas, or lose your card if you have the habit of carrying it with you. It can also be a hassle to have to type in these number sequences every time.
VISA and Mastercard payments in South Africa usually take anything from 3 to 7 business days when you make a withdrawal, but deposits are almost always instant. You can expect fees when using a bank card at many online casinos, and the fees are usually between 2-3% of the transaction amount.
Skrill is a popular e-wallet that is also available in South Africa, and the advantage is that it is almost always available as a payment method, regardless of the gambling site you choose. With Skrill, you create an account and a virtual wallet where you can store cash, and you only need your login credentials when it is time to make a casino payment.
With Skrill, you use your bank account to top up your account, but a potential benefit is that only ‘Skrill’ will be listed on your bank statement, and nothing related to online gambling or what you ultimately chose to use the money for.
One thing you’ll inevitably notice if you read casino terms and conditions, is that many gambling sites don’t give out casino bonuses to those paying with Skrill and Neteller. This applies also to South African players and may be a deal-breaker if you are someone who values casino bonuses.
You can open up a personal account or a PayPal business account, and use this well established payment service to make purchases and money transactions all over the world. It is one of the top options in South Africa, and the company’s long history and reputation as one of the first e-wallets likely contributes to its popularity.
Unfortunately, PayPal is one of the less commonly found payment methods at online casinos in SA and worldwide, but there is a good explanation. The payment platform is very selective with the casino sites they collaborate with, and what this means for you as a player is that a casino with PayPal is likely a casino you can trust.
PayPal also charges some fees when you withdraw money from your e-wallet and to your bank account, and it could be worth exploring if you benefit more from making small withdrawals or save up for a larger withdrawal.
Neteller is also available in South Africa, and while the statistics show that it’s somewhat less popular than Skrill, the two tend to go hand in hand and are often mentioned together. Just like with Skrill, Neteller is usually a poor choice when wanting to claim a casino bonus, as casinos may have restrictions in place for both.
If this is not a concern, or if you would like to use Neteller for deposits when no bonuses are available, it is a highly trustworthy service that offers instant deposits and reasonably fast withdrawals, where you’ll have your money in your e-wallet within hours and a day or two.
With the strict gambling rules in South Africa, it is not surprising to see gamblers becoming more and more drawn to cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a volatile currency that is fully electronic and border-free, and it is as close as you can get to anonymous payments. It requires some knowledge to start using cryptocurrency for casino payments, and you will inevitably have to do some research to find crypto friendly online casinos.
The anonymity of cryptocurrency payments could be favourable for players in South Africa considering how tricky it can be to navigate the existing online casino gambling laws, but it is certainly not a payment method that works for everyone.
Comparing Different SA Payment Methods
|Payment Method||Payment Type||Pros||Cons|
|VISA/Mastercard||Debit/Credit Card||Almost everyone has a card. Widely available.||Inconvenient to always need your card number.|
|Bank Transfer||Bank Transfer Wire Transfer||Extremely secure. Available everywhere.||Slow casino transactions that are visible on your bank statement.|
|Skrill||E-Wallet||Instant deposits and fast withdrawals.||May make you ineligible for casino bonuses.|
|PayPal||E-Wallet||Available only at trustworthy casinos.||Restricted availability and fees.|
|Bitcoin||Cryptocurrency||Anonymous transactions and low fees.||Volatile and sometimes unpredictable.|
Responsible Gambling In SA
Each and every online gambler is responsible for their own behaviour on the internet, and that includes making sure you gamble responsibly. Responsible gambling includes setting reasonable budgets for yourself and to never gamble for more money than you can afford to lose. In SA, resources are available to those who need help regulating their gambling.
The South African Responsible Gambling Foundation (SARGF) offers free resources for those needing help with gambling regulation, such as toll-free phone lines, reading material, tips and advice, and you can use this if you feel you need additional support.
Online casinos available in South Africa also offer tools like daily, weekly and monthly gambling limits, as well as options to voluntarily suspend yourself from using the service for a set period of time.
Gambling is Rising in Popularity in South Africa
Yes, South Africa is still waiting for a much anticipated update to their gambling laws, and many hope for online gambling to become more accessible. For now, it remains illegal for South Africans in South Africa to gamble at international gambling sites, and only gambling at SA licensed sites is allowed.
Despite the restrictions, there are plenty of options out there for South Africans, and if you are a South African located outside of your home country, then you can legally gamble at online gambling sites.
Use the information provided in this guide to find the best gambling opportunities for you, and don’t forget to gamble responsibly. Online gambling is available in South Africa, and you just need to know how to play.
Frequently Asked Questions About South Africa Casinos
Yes. Legal gambling sites in South Africa are heavily regulated, and they require strict licences to operate legally. This means that each legal gambling site in SA is regulated by a third-party agency and held to high standards.
Online gambling is popular in South Africa, but its popularity is held back by the existing gambling laws and restrictions present in the country. More and more people are pushing for legislation to allow SA players to gamble at online gambling sites without breaking the law, and this indirectly demonstrates an increase in popularity.
Some gambling is legal in SA, but the sites and/or land-based casinos are required to be licensed by a gambling board in their specific region, along with a list of other requirements. South Africans located in South Africa may not gamble at international gambling sites or participate in unlicensed gambling.
You need to be 18 years old to gamble in South Africa, and some gambling or betting establishments may have set a higher limit.
Any payment method accepting ZAR could be considered a good option for South Africans, but it comes down to how you prefer to pay. E-wallets are easy to use and widely available in SA, and so are bank cards like VISA and Mastercard.
No licensed online gambling site in South Africa charges to sign up, and if you come across a site that does, then chances are it does not have an SA licence and that it can therefore not be considered trustworthy.
No, but all sites and casinos need to be licensed in South Africa in order to operate legally.
Sports betting is only legal at betting sites and with bookmakers who are licensed by the board in the province where it is located, along with additional requirements. Online betting at international gambling sites is illegal for South Africans located in South Africa.
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