South African Laws Regarding Online Gambling

Because of the country’s apartheid past, gambling in South Africa was outlawed practically everywhere save for a few exceptions. Despite the widespread acceptance of sports betting and traditional casinos, internet casino gaming is still illegal in the country at this time. This is predicted to change.

Learn more about the gaming regulations in South Africa by reading on.

Casino Games and Their Regulatory Status


In South Africa, gambling was illegal until 1994, when the National Gambling Act authorized a licensing system.


The other side of the story is that only a limited number of gambling operations, mostly offline betting, were legalized. The restrictions were partly loosened and clarified in 2004 but still make it unlawful to play at online casinos based in South Africa or elsewhere.


The National Gaming Board’s remit included managing advertising and reducing problem gambling, which fell short of full regulation of the business. Even though the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 was supposed to legalize internet casinos in South Africa, nothing has changed as of yet.


In this article, we examine the legal status of gambling in South Africa, activity by activity.


The 1965 Gambling Act made it official policy that land-based casinos in South Africa were outlawed. Despite this, as part of the apartheid policy, casinos were commonly found in various aboriginal countries (Bantustans).


After Nelson Mandela’s election and the end of apartheid, the National Gambling Act of 1996 allowed for the licensing of regulated casinos, with responsibility for their operation divided among the country’s nine provinces. In 2003, the use of LPMs (Limited Payout Machines) became lawful.


Online casino gaming was officially addressed and deemed unlawful in South Africa by the National Gambling Act of 2004. While the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 was passed to address this issue, it has yet to be implemented due to opposition from land-based casinos fearful of a decline in revenue.


However, with the new rules in place, they are once again interested in creating their own internet presence.



South Africans can legally participate in offline poker games at any of the 40 or so land-based casinos operating in the nation.


‘Online betting’ refers only to wagering on sporting events and horse races, whereas ‘online gambling’ encompasses any other form of wagering conducted over the Internet and is therefore prohibited. Since ‘everything else’ includes internet poker, it is also forbidden there.


numerous South Africans, however, find that they can readily join one of the numerous popular online casinos based outside of the nation, despite the fact that they face severe sanctions from the government in the extremely improbable event that they are caught.


Bingo In 1996, the National Gambling Act made it lawful for establishments like the Galaxy Bingo chain to offer bingo to the public. This chain has locations in six of South Africa’s nine provinces.


Online bingo gambling is a different topic altogether because it is considered to be a form of unlawful online gambling in the country.



Land-based lotteries were also made lawful by the National Gambling Act of 1996, and a year later in 1997, the law approved South Africa’s first National Lottery, which began operations in 2000 and saw initial sales of 800,000 tickets.


Tickets for the National Lottery can be purchased in convenience stores and select banks even after more than two decades. A little over a third of all lottery profits in South Africa are given to good causes.


The only permitted form of online lottery play in South Africa is purchasing National Lottery tickets through the official website; playing the lottery or betting on the results of the lottery for real money is considered prohibited.


Participatory Video Games

Since there is no exchange of currency in esports or other kinds of social gaming, they cannot be considered gambling. But what does is betting on esports. Fans of esports betting in South Africa should rest easy: the country recognizes this practice as “online betting,” on par with online sports betting.

Gambling Regulations in South Africa


Until a law was passed in 1996, the only kind of sports betting that was permissible in South Africa was on-course betting on horse races.


A surge of activity followed the official legalization of sports betting, resulting in the opening of over 400 betting shops. The Association of South African bookies represents the vast majority of the country’s around 300 licensed bookies.


Despite the abundance of locally licensed online sportsbooks in South Africa, many residents take their wagering business to the plethora of international sites.


Maximum Gambling Age Set at 21

While those under the age of 18 are not permitted to gamble in South Africa, several casinos do allow minors into the casino as long as they do not stay in the gaming sections.


Controlling Taxes

When compared to other countries, South Africa’s gambling tax regulations are relatively lax, allowing South Africans to keep 100% of their gains from lawful betting operations. Payouts from wagers on horse races, however, are subject to a 6% VAT fee.


South Africa’s Gambling Legislation: A Brief History

Before the 1965 Gambling Act, all forms of gambling in the country were banned with the exception of on-track wagering on horse races. But throughout this time, an unknown number of casinos—perhaps 2,000—operated outside of public view.


Land-based casinos, sports-betting businesses, lotteries, and bingo were all made lawful, with regulations and licensing instituted, after the end of apartheid in 1996. The National Gambling Board was established in the same year with the mandate to regulate the gambling industry and protect its citizens from addiction.


The first ever National Lottery began operations in 2000, made possible by the passage of the 1997 Lotteries Act.


In 2003, the National Gambling Act made Limited Payout Machines permissible in brick-and-mortar venues, and in 2004, the law was further amended to permit the licensing and regulation of internet sportsbooks while still prohibiting online casinos.


Online casino slots, table games, and live dealer games were all intended to be legalized by the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008, which was passed but has yet to be implemented due to opposition from land-based casinos.


South African land-based casinos have shown renewed interest in a regulated online casino business, as they stand to gain from operating their own branded online casino sites. This indicates that the law may soon be changed in favor of legalized online casino gambling.

The Basics


There is now little confusion about the gaming landscape in South Africa, with the focus instead being on the obvious delineation between online betting and online gambling.


Offline gambling is legal, including casinos, lotteries, bingo, and betting on sports and horse races.


Online sports betting, which includes betting on horse racing and esports, is the only form of online gambling that is legal in the country. Tickets for the South African National Lottery are available online at the official site. South African law prohibits any form of online gambling.