Most Popular Sports In South Africa Revealed

South Africa is home to over sixty million people which makes it the twenty-third most populous country in the world. The country is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and amazing cultural diversity. This remote African country has a booming economy with a nominal GDP per capita standing at $5,236 and its GDP per capita standing at $12,351 as estimated in 2021.

South Africa is also famous for its thriving gambling industry even though various forms of gambling activities have been restricted within the country’s borders for many years. Back in 1965, the main piece of legislation in the country concerning gambling activities the Gambling Act banned all sorts of gambling activities with only one exception, horse racing.

Not many years later in the 1970s, land-based casinos became operational in several independent South African areas including Venda, Transkei, and Bophuthatswana. At the time, land-based casinos operational in these areas were only accessible to native residents so not many South Africans could access them. By the middle 1990s, it was believed that over two thousand illegal gambling establishments were operational in the country.

Once the new South African government rose to power back in 1994, various forms of gambling activities were finally legalized. Two years later, the main piece of legislation concerning gambling activities the National Gambling Act enforced a detailed regulatory system concerning operations of land-based casinos and other gambling establishments in the country.

The National Gambling Act and the National Gambling Board

The same piece of legislation made a collection of different provisions related to the regulation of casinos and gambling establishments and the regulation of all forms of legalized gambling activities. At the same time, the National Gambling Board was established. The National Gambling Board is responsible for the regulation and supervision of the land-based and online gambling industry.

The National Gambling Board is also tasked with overseeing and monitoring all forms of gambling establishments operating in the country as well as preserving the honesty and integrity of those establishments. The main regulatory body responsible for overseeing gambling activities throughout the country is also responsible for issuing national licenses, conducting performance evaluations of all licensing authorities from all different provinces, and ensuring that the strict national standards and norms established by the main piece of legislation are always consistently and uniformly applied across all South African provinces.

The National Gambling Board also assists other gaming authorities in South Africa with uncovering and detecting any form of illegal and unlicensed land-based and online gambling activities. Today, the thriving South African gambling industry includes various sports betting sites, casinos, horse racing betting, and charity competitions, and all of these activities are regulated and overseen by the National Gambling Board.

Sports Betting in South Africa

Sports betting activities have undergone an amazing rise in the past several years with more and more young South Africans engaging in various sports betting activities. Here, numerous renowned sports betting sites are operational and some of the best sports betting operators in South Africa are reviewed in Since sports betting activities in the country are one hundred percent legal and regulated, South African bettors enjoy the safest iGaming environments across those top sports betting sites in South Africa.

Sports betting sites in South Africa cover loads of different sports activities from football to rugby and even darts, cycling, and much more. However, several sports are most beloved by South Africans and these generally attract the most attention including:

  • Cricket
  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Basketball
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Boxing

The Most Popular Sports in South Africa

Without any doubt, football has been and still is the most popular sport in South Africa. In fact, football is the most popular sport not only in South Africa but almost every other country on the continent even though rugby and cricket have their fans as well. There is no sports betting site in South Africa that does not cover the biggest football events and leagues.

When it comes to football in South Africa, it was introduced over one hundred years ago by Portuguese, French, Belgian, and British colonialists. Since football is also the most popular sport in Europe, there is no wonder why European colonialists introduced the sport to South Africa and their other African colonies. While football is extremely exciting, its amazing popularity in South Africa came as a result of its great accessibility.

Unlike many other sports of this kind, football does not require as many resources and money to play. What is needed is a flat field and a ball. Football is enjoyed not only by South Africans but also by many other African residents across the continent. Over fifty years ago, the very first football clubs were formed in South Africa and the popularity of football blossomed back in the 1960s when African countries finally became independent.

Besides football, cricket is also extremely popular in South Africa and this also reflects the country’s colonial influence and just like with football, cricket was introduced in South Africa by the British colonialists. South Africa has its national cricket team that competes in major international sports events. Its love for cricket was crowned back in 2003 and 2007 when the country hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup and the ICC World Twwenty20.

Besides football and cricket, rugby is another sport that South Africans enjoy. In fact, rugby used to be the most popular sport in the country for many years. Rugby is played across the country and the South African rugby national team is one of the strongest, most skilled, and most competitive teams in the world. At one point, it was one of the best performing rugby teams on the World Rugby Rankings list. Speaking of rugby and South Africa, the country hosted the Rugby World Cup 1995 and won. The South African rugby team also won two more times in 2007 and more recently in 2019.

The three most popular sports in South Africa are most certainly rugby, cricket, and football, but South Africans are also huge fans of several other sports including basketball, golf, tennis, boxing, and netball. In South Africa, basketball is a very popular sport, especially among young South Africans. Back in 1992, the Basketball South African national federation was formed and this is one of the youngest FIBA members. While no South African basketball player has made it to the biggest professional basketball league NBA, South Africans are avid basketball players.

Boxing is another extremely popular sport in South Africa. The popularity of boxing skyrocketed in the country after that iconic Bendoff-Couper fight. In recent years, the popularity of boxing has been declining steadily but still, boxing remains one of the most sports activities among South Africans. When discussing the most popular sports in South Africa, we have to mention tennis. As estimated recently, there are over 700,000 tennis players in the country and over forty-four percent of them are younger than twenty-four.

South African tennis players had several major successes with its national team winning the David Cup 1974. South African Johan Kriek brought his country the very first and only Grand Slam victory after winning the 1981 Australian Open. While not as popular as rugby, cricket, and football, tennis has its loyal fans among young South Africans. The same is true for golf that in South Africa has a very long and rich history.

In fact, South Africa is one of the greatest nations when it comes to golf. The most famous South African golfer Bobby Locke was crowned the winner at The British Open even four times. Bobby Locke also won the South African Open and the South African professional multiple times. South Africa also produced a number of other highly successful golfers over the years including Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, and Tim Clark.


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