On this page you’ll find everything you need to know about land and online gambling in South Africa. Of all the countries in Africa, South Africa has arguably the most regulated and organised gambling industry, which only really came about at the end of Apartheid in the mid-1990s.
During Apartheid, the one and only legal form of gambling was on-track horse race betting. It was only in the late 1970s when local hotel mogul Sol Kerzner began construction of his infamous Sun City casino and resort in the then homeland of Bophuthatswana (now part of Northwest Province), that South Africans got their first taste of a land casino with slots and table games.
After 1994, South Africa’s provinces were renamed and restructured, and Bophuthatswana and its fellow homelands – tools of the apartheid era used to enforce segregation - were finally scrapped. The country’s gambling sector also underwent a dramatic transformation as most forms of land gambling were legalised and regulated including sports betting, lotteries and land casinos.
Today, South Africa has some 38 licensed and regulated land casinos (including Sun City) located in or close to the country’s largest metropolitan areas. These attract local and foreign gambling fans alike with their sprawling gaming rooms, entertainment facilities and various eateries.
Although these days many South Africans choose to gamble at offshore owned and operated online casinos, online gambling has yet to be legalised and regulated by the SA government.
Types of Gambling in South Africa
There are four main types of gambling in South Africa:
It’s no secret how much South Africans love sports which is why there are so many land and online sportsbooks where you can place bets on practically any sporting event - local and international. Most South African bookmakers also offer non-sports betting lines on a variety of areas and subjects including politics, celebrities and even the weather.
The South African National Lottery was launched in March 2000 in the form of a single weekly Lotto draw. Since then it has evolved into a bi-weekly Lotto + Lotto Plus draw (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and a bi-weekly Powerball + Powerball Plus draw (Tuesdays and Fridays) with enormous jackpots. It also offers Sportstake 13, Raffle and Pick 3.
South Africa boasts some of the world’s best land casinos which are situated in or close to the largest cities in the land. Many have smoking and non-smoking gaming floors crammed with a wide choice of slot and video poker machines, and table games like roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker and others that accept a variety of coin and chip sizes.
The government of South Africa has yet to legalise online casinos, which means it is currently illegal to own and operate online casinos within South African borders, and is a prosecutable offence. Similarly, it’s illegal to gamble at domestic or offshore online casinos, although South African authorities have yet to prosecute anyone for doing so.
South African Sports Betting
Where once sports betting in South Africa was limited to on-track horse racing, today the sky is the absolute limit because South African punters can wager on horseracing and any other sports they choose at a wide variety of trusted licensed land and online operators.
While there are still many reputable land-based bookmakers across the nation (most of which have been granted licenses by Western Cape Gambling Board), a rising number of punters are opting for the ease, speed and convenience offered by online and mobile sports betting sites.
The main reason is that with just a click of the mouse or a swipe of a finger, you can place your bets. Many of the world’s premier internet bookmakers even offer state-of-the-art live streaming facilities so that you can watch the action online in real time.
Whether owned and operated locally or internationally, as long as they welcome punters from South Africa and are willing to process deposits, wagers and withdrawals in ZAR, you can sign up with them and bet as big or small as you see fit.
South African Online Sportsbooks
The great thing about South African online sports betting is how quick and easy it is to get started. All you need is a computer or a smart phone or tablet, access to the internet, the means to fund your betting account and, of course, to be 18 or older, the legal gambling age in South Africa.
Once you’ve clicked on any of our featured sportsbooks, it will only take you a few minutes to sign up for a new account and verify it. When you make a deposit using a credit card, an e-wallet or a prepaid card, your funds will reflect immediately so you can start betting and hopefully winning.
Each of the online bookmakers we promote offer generous sign up bonus offers as well as ongoing promotions to keep your rewards flowing. In addition, our featured South African sports betting sites are all licensed, offer extremely competitive odds and process pay-outs quickly and efficiently.
Three leading South African-friendly online and mobile betting sites we promote are Sportsbet.co.za, Bet365.com and Sportingbet.co.za. On these sites you’ll find all the latest rugby, cricket, golf, cycling, football, tennis, athletics, snooker, darts and squash action, plus much more to bet on.
South African Lottery Games
Currently only the National Lottery is permitted operate in South Africa, which was launched in 2000. Since then its offerings have expanded to include a bi-weekly Lotto (with Plus) draw, a bi-weekly Powerball (with Plus) draw and three other games - Pick 3, Raffle and Sportstake 13.
Since its launch, the National Lottery (which is operated by Ithuba), has yielded hundreds of instant millionaires as well as hundreds of thousands of lucky winners. To date, the highest lotto jackpot paid out is R58,358,384 (in April of 2013), while the lowest is R757,844 (in March of 2003).
The South African National Lottery is permitted and regulated under the South African Lotteries ACT 57 of 1997. Players of the Lotto must pick 6 numbers from 1 to 49, and players of the Powerball have to pick 5 numbers from 1 to 45 plus an additional number (the Powerball) from 1 to 20.
South African Land Casinos
South Africa has the distinction of having more land casinos than any other country in Africa. There are currently 36 licensed casinos across the nation’s nine provinces, with the highest concentration in Gauteng with 7. Limpopo and Northern Cape only have 2 each, the smallest number.
Arguably, the most famous of South Africa’s casinos is Sun City which, being an enormous family-friendly resort, attracts hundreds of thousands of local and foreign visitors every year. It is also home to the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is the world’s single richest golf tournament.
Another gambling landmark is Gold Reef City Casino, which is literally built above the very goldmines that coined Johannesburg’s famous nickname “the City of Gold.” It has more than 1600 slot and video poker machines as well as some 50 table games that include roulette and blackjack.
Cape Town’s GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World has the distinction of being the biggest casino in South Africa with over 2 560 smart card slot and video poker machines, plus 79 premium table games, all of which accept a wide variety of coin and chip sizes to suit any budget.
South African Online Casinos
Online casinos and play at online casinos is illegal in South Africa according to Section 11 of the National Gambling Act, which states that “a person must not engage in or make available an interactive game except as authorised in terms of this Act or any other national law.”
That said, online betting is permitted in South Africa, at both local and foreign internet sportsbooks. Despite its legal status, many South Africans still seek out safe and reputable offshore online casinos. To date, no South African players have been prosecuted for playing at online casinos.
South African Mobile Casinos
These days most of the world’s best online casinos are available to play on most smart phones and devices. This means you can use your same casino login details (username + password) to sign in to your account on your computer, laptop, smart phone, notebook or tablet.
In addition, most South African mobile casinos support late model mobile devices and operating systems such as Android, Apple iOS, Windows and even Blackberry. Because the majority of mobile casino games are designed in multi-platform HTML5, you can play them on your Samsung Galaxy, iPhone, Nokia or pretty much any other device.
Gambling Legislation and Regulation in South Africa
Post-Apartheid, South Africa underwent a dramatic transformation in most ways areas, gambling included. The National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP), a regulatory body, was set up to take the industry into the 21st century by legalising casinos, lotteries, sports betting and bingo.
Under the guidance of the NRGP, in less than a decade a number of bricks and mortar casinos had mushroomed across the land, and South Africans could buy tickets for a lottery with multi-million Rand jackpots. Unfortunately, these new regulations excluded most forms of online gambling.
While placing bets at licensed online sports betting sites was permitted, playing online casino games, online bingo and online poker was not, and still isn’t, according to the National Gambling Act of 2004. There was a slim hope that all forms of online gambling would be legalised as per the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008, but as yet nothing has changed.
In 2014 a draft bill of the Remote Gambling Bill was introduced in parliament, which encouraged the South African general public to voice their opinions about the possible legalisation of online gambling in the country. The results thereof have yet to be released and made public.
While South Africa’s anti-online gambling stance has scared off domestic online casino operators, most premier offshore casino, poker and bingo sites welcome players from South Africa, and some even offer ZAR as one of their currencies, as well as special SA-targeted bonus offers.
To be clear, it is our stance here at GamblingAfrica that players should adhere to the gambling laws as laid down by their respective countries, South Africans included.
About South Africa
South Africa is situated on the southern tip of Africa. With over 53 million citizens, it is home to one of the world’s most ethnically diverse populations and has 11 official languages.
It is a very mineral rich country that also has a thriving tourism industry with a host of magnificent wildlife preserves, beaches, mountain ranges and more for local and foreign tourists to enjoy.