Simon’s Guide to Online Gambling in South Africa

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This is a picture of Cape town, the capital of South Africa.

Online gambling in South Africa

 

Online gambling in South Africa is illegal, except for the online platform of the national lottery,  licensed sports books and horse betting sites. Legal gambling in general, is a relatively new phenomena in the country as well. Gambling in South Africa was first legalised based on the 1994 report published by the Lotteries and Gambling Board, also referred to as the “Wiehahn Commission”*.

The authors of the report found, that the ill effects of illegal and unfair gambling – which was widespread in the country by than – could be partially eliminated and by establishing a legal gambling industry with strong regulatory control and licensed operators, and such a regulation could also means healthy streams of revenue for the state.

By 1996, the National Gambling Act instituted a system of licensed casinos and a single national lottery. Horse racing was also proclaimed a legal gambling activity. In 2004, another Gambling Act repealed the one enacted in ’96. The new piece of legislation laid down a stricter and more closely regulated legal framework for the gambling industry in South Africa and it also permitted sports betting, online and offline alike. In 2008, an amendment to the Gambling Act was introduced seeking to regulate online gambling in South Africa, however, it faced heavy opposition from various political and interest groups, as a result of which it hasn’t been enacted to date.

At the time of writing, only land based casinos, the national lottery, sports betting and horse race betting is legal in the country, with the latter three also permitted online, with operators licensed in the country’s provinces.

Online casino games, online card games, bingo and unlicensed lotteries were expressly outlawed in 2010 in South Africa, when the High Court of Gauteng Province ruled against the Swaziland Based Pigg Peak online casino. It was declared, that it is illegal for them, or any other foreign or domestic online casino, to offer their services to South African players. The decision was later upheld by the Court of Appeals, banning online casino gambling in South Africa altogether**.

According to South African law, anyone who is prosecuted for an online gambling related offence is liable for a fine not exceeding R10 million (approx. $723,000) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or both. This clause covers online gambling operators, banks transmitting transactions related to the activity, advertisers and players as well***.
However, I haven’t found any reported case of a player being prosecuted and convicted for online gambling in South Africa.

A Remote Gambling Bill is being discussed by regulators recently, which would legalise online gambling in South Africa and would make it possible for the National Gambling Board to licence online casinos in South Africa. The Act is yet to be passed, and it also faces some opposition from the The Department of Trade and Industry. The Department expressed concerns, that there was no proper preliminary impact study done and the bill doesn’t address social issues related to online gambling in South Africa adequately.

 

*Source: KwaZulu-Natal – Gaming and Betting Board – South Africa: Governance, Risk and Compliance Summit Report

**Source: William S. Boyd School of Law – the Legality of banning online Gambling in South Africa

***Source: Casino Association of South Africa – National Gambling Act 7 of 2004

 

 

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Summary:

 

 

Gambling in an Online casino, South Africa

 

SA Online casino gambling: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

Land based casino gambling is legal and licensed in the county since the Gambling Act was enacted in 1996.

However, there is no legally operating online casino in South Africa in operation to date. Operators, players, banks and advertisers who are involved in online gambling in South Africa face hefty fines and possible prison sentences. However, I only found one case, when players were arrested in the country for gambling and even that was in relation to a brick & mortar gambling den raid*.

There is no evidence, that the authorities of South Africa would prosecute individual players who place bets online.

 

*Source: Authorities Raid Illegal Eastern Cape Gambling Den

 

 

Bingo in South Africa

 

Online bingo in South Africa: illegal, players are not prosecuted

While land based, licensed casinos are allowed to operate bingo halls, online bingo is banned in South Africa.

The penalties for online gambling are much too serious to be widely imposed on individual players, and there are in fact no sources that suggest, that a player was ever convicted for online gambling in South Africa.

 

 

 

Poker in South Africa

 

Online poker in South Africa: illegal, players can be prosecuted

 

Land based poker is a legal and licensed activity inside a legally operating South Africa casino.

To date, there is no such thing as a legally operating SA online casino and online poker is also prohibited. The now discussed draft legislation meant to legalise online gambling in South Africa could establish a legal online poker scene in the country as well, but players probably have to wait a few more months (perhaps years) ’till it’s enacted.

 

 

Sports betting in South Africa

 

Online sports betting in South Africa: legal on licensed platforms

 

Sports Betting is legal and licensed in South Africa, both online and offline. Sports Betting sites that operate under a licence from one of the country’s provinces are allowed to offer their services to South African players. The largest provider of online spots betting in the country is sportingbet.co.za and there are also a number of legal online bookmakers specialising in horse race betting, such as goldcircle.co.za.

Players of unlicensed foreign online sportsbook could – theoretically – face penalties, however, the authorities are after operators and not individual gamblers.

 

 

 

Lottery in South Africa

 

Online lottery in South Africa: legal, state monopoly, you can buy lottery tickets online

From 1 June 2015, ITHUBA Holdings Proprietary Limited is licensed to operate the South African National Lottery. The games they offer are Lotto, Lotto Plus, Powerball and a pari mutuel style sports betting game, Sportstake. All of their games are available online as well.

 

 

 

Bitcoin gambling in South Africa

 

Bitcoin gambling in South Africa: illegal, players are not prosecuted

 

South African gambling laws make no specific comment about Bitcoin gambling, and the law is formulated in such a way (see source above), that it’s safe to assume, that the general online gambling ban applies to these sites and their players.

In 2014, the world’s first licensed Bitcoin gambling sites was reportedly a Cape Town based company, BetVIP, although they received their licence in Curacao. However, the site ceased its operations by now, for unknown reasons (perhaps trouble with the authorities? – no info online).

Individual online gamblers are unlikely to be prosecuted in the country, despite the ban.

 

 

 

Online gambling in South Africa – websites accepting players

 

There are no legally operating and licensed South African online casinos registered in the country currently and foreign platforms are also considered illegal.
Nevertheless, many of the major foreign sites – which are registered in other countries and are operating legally with valid gambling licenses – accept players from the country.

The following online casinos accept players from South Africa.

 

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BGO casino – accepting players from the South Africa

Euro online casino

Casino Euro – accepting players from the South Africa

black_lotus_casino_bonus

Black Lotus casino accepting players from the South Africa

 

 

 

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This page is part of Simon’s List – Legal Status of Online Gambling – a definitive guide to the legal status of all forms of online gambling activities in every country around the world.

 

Last updated: 2015. 10. 30.

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Simon's Guide to online Gambling in South Africa
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Simon's Guide to online Gambling in South Africa
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This guide focuses on online gambling in South Africa and the various online casinos accepting players from South Africa. Let's see what forms of gambling are legal in SA.
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