South Africa does not have its own gambling commission that licenses national online casinos. However, that does not mean that there are not protections, regulation, and responsible gambling tools to be had. In fact, if you know where to look, you can find a myriad of tools to help you gamble responsibly at South African betting sites.
If you are not sure about the full ins and outs of using responsible gambling tools, specifically ones to help keep you on the straight and narrow when betting at South Africa’s casinos, then this gambling guide is ideal. We will take you on a journey through responsible gambling, problem gambling and all the necessary steps you can take to protect yourself when betting on casino games in the African country. Let us begin...
Everything You Need to Know About Responsible Gambling
First and foremost - what is responsible gambling? Responsible gambling - at its most basic - is playing in a way that keeps you safe from financial strife, betting with funds you do not have or need for other things, and helps you avoid becoming addicted to casino games. Many countries have their own national licensing authorities that set down a series of rules and regulations. Any casinos licensed out of those jurisdictions must adhere to them to help keep players safe. South Africa does not really have this body, so what does responsible gambling mean in the country, and how do you stay safe?
Even though South Africa’s National Gambling Board only looks after online sportsbooks (not casinos, and we will look at that further shortly), there are responsible gambling tools at plenty of worldwide domains that accept players from the country.
Responsible Gambling Habits
These tools should help you stay safe and avoid the perils of gambling addiction. Before we come to those, though, you should educate yourself on sound, responsible gambling habits.
- Only play if you are having fun. As the slogan goes, “when the fun stops - stop”.
- Never overreach your budget. Set aside money that you can afford to lose. Never play with funds that you need for something else, and never assume that winning streaks will last forever, or losing streaks will end if you wager just a little bit more.
- Know the games you intend on playing. Learn what highly volatile games are, how house edges work, and avoid ill-advised betting strategies, such as the Martingale. Understanding how games work will help you make more informed choices about what you play.
- Random number generators often govern the outcome of online casino games. These ensure fairness and that each spin or hand dealt is random. You cannot cheat the casino game, and the game should not be cheating you.
- Understand the early warning signs of problem gambling. We will cover those in a few moments. If you think that you tick many of the boxes, it is time to take a break, stop, or seek help.
- Make use of all the tools at your disposal. The most reputable casinos will have an array of these options to help you stay safe. With that in mind, let us look at some of the most common responsible gambling tools at South African casinos next.
Responsible Gambling Tools at South African Casinos
South Africa’s National Gambling Board does not require online casinos to provide responsible gambling tools, as it typically does not approve of casino gameplay. For this reason, most South African players tend to join casinos that are licensed (and regulated) offshore. However, no player will wager on games that are not proven to be fair, and they are not going to risk their money at crooked casinos. Because of this, most reputable offshore casinos will provide responsible gambling tools to South African players, even if the National Gambling Board does not state that they must.
Some of the many responsible gambling tools you may come across include:
- Caps on Deposits: These allow you to set an upper cap on how many Rands you want to deposit. These caps may be daily, weekly, or monthly. Once you reach this cap, you cannot deposit anything else until that predetermined daily, weekly, or monthly period has elapsed.
- Limits on Bets and Losses: Wager limits work in essentially the same way as deposit caps. In short, you can decide how many Rands you are prepared to stake. After reaching the limit, you will be frozen out from betting. A similar tool may also be available for losses. Once you have lost X Rands, you are locked out from wagering. As with deposit caps, both have timers that must elapse before you can continue betting.
- Timely Reminders: Some of the more reputable South African casinos will have time-based options. These tools include Reality Checks (that subtly remind you how long you have been playing) and timers that can cut you off when the allotted time you have selected has passed. Again, after taking a brief break, you will be invited back to gamble once more.
- Self-Exclusion/Cool Down Periods: If you find that betting online has become something of a problem for you, virtually all South African casinos will allow you to self-exclude yourself from the site for a short while. Also known as cool-down periods, these let you get back to betting once that period has elapsed, and you can decide how long that lasts for yourself.
- Account Cancellation: All South African casinos must make it easy for you to quit entirely if you want to. Some go above and beyond, allowing you not merely to cancel your account but block yourself permanently should you decide to do so. Whether you can “re-join” will vary from casino to casino.
Do South African Casinos Have a KYC Process?
KYC processes have different availability levels at South African casinos. Some sites require you to go through this process when you make your first withdrawal, irrespective of its value. Others may only need the KYC process to be completed if you wish to withdraw a specific amount. For instance, a withdrawal of R100 may not see you have to clear the KYC hurdle, but a cash out of R10,000 might. What is the KYC process, though?
The Know Your Customer process at South African casinos is designed to protect both players and casinos. It requires you to provide customer support with documents that back up and prove your identity, residential details and provide proof of payment. By doing so, the casino can rest assured that you are you and that you are not engaged in underage gambling or money laundering. KYC is a two-way street, though, and it ensures that nobody can steal your details and pose as you when betting at the casino.
Most KYC processes are completed in under 24 hours by submitting documents either to the customer support team via e-mail or by using a built-in document submission page. You only need to clear the KYC hurdle once.
Regulating and Licensing South African Betting Sites
South Africa does have its own licensing authority. The National Gambling Board has handed out ten online gambling licenses to operators. However, it is worth pointing out that the beneficiaries of these licenses are all online sportsbooks. We are not interested in betting at online bookmakers, though, so where does that leave casino lovers in South Africa?
Fortunately, South Africa’s gambling laws are relatively vague when it comes to online casinos. While the National Gambling Board does not license or regulate online casinos, it does not expressly prohibit you from playing at offshore casinos - only those illegally established in the country are banned. As a result, you can freely sign up to any “foreign” casino based elsewhere that accepts players from South Africa.
There are many of these available, and not all of them are worth their salt. What you want to do is ensure that you join an offshore casino that accepts South Africans, but is also licensed, regulated, and provides responsible gambling tools. If this sounds like an extensive amount of work, you need not worry. We will walk you through exactly what to look for now...
- License: Never play at any South African casino that does not hold a gambling license. For the most part, the best sites you can choose to join will have a gambling license issued out of one of two territories - Malta (MGA) or Curacao.
- Regulation: Aside from being licensed, it is crucial to ensure that your chosen casino is regulated. Remember, South Africa’s National Gambling Board does not require offshore casinos to do this, so it is vital that you select a site that is regulated. MGA licensed casinos are well-regulated to ensure fair play and secure gaming. While Curacao’s licensing authority does not regulate casinos themselves, they do require operators to be regulated by third parties.
- Responsible Gambling Tools: The level of responsible gambling tools (and an array of options you will find) at South African casinos varies from site to site. MGA licensed casinos tend to have more, and Curacao licensed ones tend to feature fewer tools. Even so, as long as your chosen casino has the options you require, you’re good to go.
- Certifications: Alongside regulation, it helps if your South African casino is certified for fair play. This means that they have been checked to ensure that they provide a fair shot of winning on their games and that they pay their players any winnings they have landed. iTech Labs, eCOGRA and TST, are three of the primary certifications to look for. Cryptocurrency gameplay is on the rise in South Africa, too, so look for the Provably Fair certificate if you want to bet with Bitcoins and other digital currencies.
- Trusted Operators: You can usually tell whether a casino is trustworthy by its operator. Some operators have virtually no seals of approval and receive overly negative reviews amongst fans. Operators with a long, proud history of delivering safe, quality casino gambling options to South African players are easy to spot. You can always read reviews or check out the experience and history each operator must help you decide whether to play at one of their casinos.
How to Find the Best South African Casinos
Of course, your first step to finding a top South African casino is to follow the advice we have already mentioned. Doing a little digging to ensure that you avoid blacklisted and rogue casinos (sites that are unlicensed or have lost their license) is advised. It is also essential to check that your chosen casino has responsible gambling tools that are flexible for your needs.
Once you find an array of sites that tick those boxes, there are other things you can use to break down your search. For instance, we would always recommend checking to ensure that they accept South Africans, that you can deposit using ZAR, and that the payment methods accepted work well for South African players. Moreover, we would check the terms and conditions to ensure that the wagering requirements and other rules are fair while also examining the game collection to ensure that there is something you wish to play. Remember, some South African casinos offer Afrikaans as a language alongside English, and some do not. If that is important for you, make sure you look for it.
Ask Yourself Some Important Questions
Once you have decided where to join and have set up your responsible gambling tools, you can start betting on games at South African casinos. Assuming you use the tools at your disposal, you should be fine. However, ignoring our advice and playing unprotected could see you encounter issues related to problem gambling. If you feel uneasy about betting at any time, then it is always worth running yourself through a quick self-assessment test. Most casinos have these available, but you do not need them to. Instead, we have listed the most common things to look out for below.
- Are you keeping your gambling habits a secret from loved ones?
- Do you borrow money from friends or family to gamble?
- Are you ending up paying fines because your bills are late?
- Do you find yourself with much less money than usual?
- Do you get angry or frustrated when you do not win frequently?
- Are you making deposit after deposit in quick succession?
- Are you trying to win back the money you have lost because you need that cash?
- Do you really feel as though you are winning when betting online?
- Do you find yourself trying out a series of new games when you fail to win within the first few minutes?
If the answer to some of these questions is yes, then there is the chance that you could have a problem with gambling. If that is the case, there are things you can do. Let us look at those next.
South African Support and Problem Gambling Options
Ultimately, if you suspect that you have a problem with gambling at South African casinos, you have got five options open to you.
- Immediately activate any responsible gambling tools you have chosen not to use.
- Activate the self-exclusion/cool-down options at your casino and take a break.
- Chat with the casino’s customer support team about your gambling habits and see what they recommend.
- Close your account and walk away.
- Get in touch with a problem gambling program and seek their help.
The final option is the most extreme, and effective for players who are in over their heads. Problem gambling programs include Gamblers Anonymous, GamCare and others. Most reputable South African casinos will provide you with links to these. Once you sign up with one, you will effectively be blocked from all casinos affiliated with the problem for a matter of months or years. There is no going back once you trigger this, but it is the best option for South Africans who have a serious problem.
GamStop, GamCare, and Gamblers Anonymous are the problem gambling programs that most commonly appear at South African casinos. Others also exist, but these vary from site to site.
If you find yourself answered “yes” to most of the questions in our self-assessment guide, then it could be time to seek the support provided by one of these programs.
Typically, South African casinos will have a page called “responsible gambling”, and it can usually be reached at the bottom of your casino. That page will detail all the responsible gambling tools your chosen casino offers and how they work.
South African casinos can feature varying levels of customer support. Most will provide live chat, many of which offer the service on a 24/7 basis. Many will carry e-mail support, and some will also offer telephone support for South African players. The latter is not as common as the other two options, though.
This is something that each casino has a different opinion on. At South African casinos that have fewer responsible gambling tools, you will generally find more flexibility here. However, at strictly regulated, well-licensed sites, you are not going to be able to alter your limits without first pressing and proving your case to the casino’s support team.