Gambling laws in South Africa

Gambling is a controversial activity all around the world. In South Africa, the industry has had a rough history, having been banned in all forms at one point. Still, it has been a part of South African culture for centuries.

Today, there are online gambling sites which are a lot more convenient than their traditional counterparts. These sites are relatively new, and that means they are not regulated in many parts of the world.

In South Africa, there are some online casinos that are marketed directly to South African players, but they do not hold South African licenses. But the industry is still heavily regulated, and you might still run into unlicensed sites.

Regulating land-based casinos

Before 1996, the only form of gambling that was legal in South Africa was horse betting. This was because it does not entirely rely on luck. In 1996, the National Gambling Act was enacted, and it created policies which legalised and regulated more forms of gambling. This legislation established the National Gambling Association. With this act, each of the provinces in South Africa had the authority to establish their legislation on gambling within their geographical locations. This act limited the number of casinos in all of South Africa, and the number for each province was clearly defined.

This act was replaced in its entirety in 2004. This change was necessitated by several factors, and in 2009, a new change was proposed to the act. The proposal was to limit the number of interactive gambling providers to ten.

It is worth noting that the National Gambling Authority does not have any regulatory powers on gambling, but it oversees betting around the country. The provincial governments regulate these activities on their own.

It is also worth noting that there were already some legal casinos operating in South Africa before 1996. These ones operated in the former independent homelands known as TBVC states. These states joined South Africa in 1994 when apartheid was abolished, and they already had legal casinos as independent states. The government allowed these casinos to run for a while until they established legislation that allowed these casinos to operate legally.

The legalisation of gambling was also necessitated by the emergency of many illegal gambling operations in the country. It was evident that the government was losing a lot of money in taxes, and the industry would keep running without regulation. There was no guarantee that the games and machines were fair since there was nobody to oversee the activity.

Today, you can find many legal casinos around South Africa. These gambling houses have to renew the licenses at regular intervals.

Regulating online casinos

It is only recently that the government of South Africa recognised the existence of online casinos. Since 2010, the government has made online gambling illegal in South Africa. It is also illegal to advertise online casino directly to South African residents. But notably, the government has allowed online sports betting in the country, and such sites have to get the same licenses as other land-based gambling houses.

This has not stopped online casinos from marketing their services to South Africans. Some casinos are even created specifically to cater to the South African market. These gambling sites are located outside South Africa, meaning they don’t need South African licenses. There have been some efforts to counter these websites, but the government still has been unable to eliminate them.

You will not land into any trouble for gambling on international sites since the South African government does not go after individuals. Instead, they focus on getting the gambling sites.

Although it is easy to find online casinos that accept South African players, you should always ensure that the site you choose has a reputable gambling license. The most reputable licensing bodies at the moment include the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Isle of Man Gaming Commission, and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

The licensing body will help you solve disputes with the casinos as they act as a neutral third party. Also, they ensure that all the games are fair and all the machines are operating randomly. If you work with an unlicensed online casino, you cannot be sure about your chances of winning, and if they fail to send your payouts, you will not have legal recourse. The licenses are usually positioned at the bottom of the site.


Some international sites accept payments in the South African rand, but that should not be taken to mean that they are legally recognised by the government. All international online casinos are illegal in the country.

The sites allow many different payment methods which are available to South Africans. Some of the most common methods include PayPal, credit cards, debit cards, EntroPay, Neteller, EcoCard, EcoPayz, PayNearMe, MyCitadel, eCheck, and even Bitcoin. Most banks in South Africa would not allow you to transfer funds to and from these casinos since they can get in trouble. You can simply move the funds from your bank account to these payment channels and make your transactions.


You have to pay taxes on many things in South Africa, but you don’t need to report any winnings on sports bets. The only exception is bets placed on horse races. For these bets, you will need to pay a 6% value-added tax on your winnings. Since other forms of online betting are illegal, you should not report any winnings. If you do, you can end up in trouble.

Security is important in online casinos, especially those which are not recognised by the South African government. To ensure that your funds are safe, you should ensure that you only work with a site that has SSL encryption. This encryption indicates that the site cannot be hacked, and you cannot lose your money.

In addition, you should ensure that the site is licensed by a reputable body. The best licensing bodies will require the casinos to hold the players’ funds in an account that is separate from their operating funds. This means that you will always get your funds, even if the company goes under.

You should also avoid playing on new sites since they don’t have enough history to support their ethics. Most old and established sites value their reputations and will not risk their businesses by engaging in fraudulent activities.

Gambling Online vs. Betting in Land-Based Casinos

As a resident of South Africa, you can place bets on the internet, or you can visit a physical gambling house. If you want to be on the right side of the law, you can gamble in traditional casinos or sign up on sports betting sites. Online casinos are ideal for people who don’t want to visit smoke-filled gambling houses where people are drinking alcohol. They are also great for people who live far from traditional casinos. With online sites, you will be able to place bets from any location.


Gambling is legal in South Africa, but the government prohibits the use of online betting sites. The only acceptable gambling sites are those which offer sports bets. You can still place bets on international gambling sites since the government does not usually target individual gamblers. Sites like CasinoSecret cater to the South African market, even though they don’t hold a South African license.

If you intend to gamble online, make sure you work with a company that holds a reputable license. Also, ensure that it is secure. If you place bets on horse races, you will have to pay a 6% value-added tax. With the other forms of gambling, you will not need to report your winnings to the taxing authorities. Online casinos will likely be legalised soon since there are already calls for its legalisation.


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