Is online gambling taxed in South Africa?

Online gambling is gaining popularity in South Africa, offering exciting opportunities for those looking to try their hand at games of chance and skill. However, understanding the tax implications is important for anyone interested in participating.

This article aims to clarify the taxation rules surrounding online gambling in South Africa, ensuring you can enjoy your gaming experience with confidence and compliance.

What is online gambling?

Online gambling refers to the practice of participating in gambling activities such as casino games, sports betting, poker, and more through the internet. It allows people to wager money on various games of chance or skill without physically being present at a traditional gambling establishment.

How does online gambling work in South Africa?

Online gambling in South Africa operates within a regulatory framework governed by the National Gambling Act of 2004 and the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008. Here’s a breakdown of how online gambling works in South Africa:

Legal framework

Online gambling in South Africa is regulated and restricted. The National Gambling Act prohibits online gambling through offshore sites, meaning South African players should only use licensed local operators for online betting on sports and horse racing.

Licensed operators

Licensed operators in South Africa must adhere to strict regulations set by the National Gambling Board. They offer a range of online gambling services, including sports betting and horse racing betting. These operators are legally allowed to accept bets from South African residents.

How to participate

To participate in online gambling in South Africa, users need to follow these steps:

  • Choose a licensed operator: Select a reputable and licensed South African operator that offers the type of gambling you’re interested in, such as sports betting or horse racing.
  • Create an account: Register on the operator’s website or mobile app by providing necessary personal information. This includes details like name, address, date of birth, and sometimes proof of identity.
  • Deposit funds: Fund your gambling account using available payment methods accepted by the operator. Common methods for funding your gambling account in South Africa include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, and digital wallets.
  • Place bets: Browse through the available betting markets and place bets on sports events or horse races. The operator will provide odds and betting options for various matches and races.
  • Withdraw winnings: If you win, you can withdraw your winnings from your gambling account. Operators typically offer various withdrawal methods, and processing times may vary.

Is online gambling legal in South Africa?

First, it’s important to understand the legal status of online gambling in South Africa. The National Gambling Act of 2004 governs all aspects of gambling within South Africa. According to this law, online gambling through offshore sites is illegal. However, there are licensed South African operators for online betting on sports and horse racing, which are legal.

Do you have to pay tax on online gambling winnings?

Yes, you do have to pay tax on online gambling winnings in South Africa. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) considers gambling winnings as part of your taxable income. This means you must declare these winnings when you file your annual tax return.

How are gambling winnings taxed?

For casual gamblers
If you are a casual gambler, your winnings are subject to income tax. This is because SARS views these winnings as a part of your overall income for the year. You need to report these earnings in your tax return and they will be taxed at your normal income tax rate.

For professional gamblers
If you are a professional gambler, meaning you earn a significant part of your income from gambling, your winnings are also subject to income tax. In addition, SARS might classify your gambling activities as a business. This means you could also be liable for additional taxes such as Value-Added Tax (VAT).

How to declare your gambling winnings

Keep records
To declare your gambling winnings, you need to keep accurate records of all your gambling activities. This includes:

  • Dates of gambling sessions
  • Amounts won and lost
  • Names of the gambling operators
  • File Your Tax Return

When you file your annual tax return, include your gambling winnings under the “other income” section. Make sure to provide detailed information and attach any necessary documentation.

Deductions on gambling losses

You can deduct gambling losses from your winnings, but only up to the amount of your winnings. This means if you win R10 000 and lose R5 000, you can declare a net income of R5 000 from gambling. However, if your losses exceed your winnings, you cannot claim the excess amount.

What happens if you don’t declare your winnings?

Failing to declare your gambling winnings can have serious consequences. SARS can impose penalties and interest on unpaid taxes. In severe cases, you could also face legal action.


Online gambling winnings in South Africa are taxable and must be declared on your annual tax return. Whether you are a casual gambler or a professional, it is important to understand your tax obligations to avoid penalties and legal issues. Keep detailed records of your gambling activities and report your winnings accurately to SARS.


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