Online Gambling in South Africa

Gambling online internationally is one of the biggest industries in the world and South African online casino and gambling fans love to gamble online at the best online casinos just as much as anybody from any other country in the world does. The current way of thinking among most South African gamblers is that online gambling is illegal in South Africa but the fact of the matter is that this is not entirely true. The truth about the legalities of online gambling in South Africa is that there is a grey margin between legal and illegal and it is worth learning about the background and the history of online gambling legislation in South Africa so that you are more informed as to what you can and can’t do with online gambling in South Africa.

With the introduction of online casinos into South Africa came the first information portals such as Gambling SA.

Read all about:

  • South African online gambling’s recent past
  • Legal initiatives that are happening now
  • The big picture in legal terms
  • Potential developments in the future

The Recent Past of Online Gambling in South Africa

Before 1995: before 1995 when South Africa became a democracy most forms of gambling were completely illegal. During this period of time a number of so called independent homeland states existed and this is where a number of real or bricks and mortar casinos operated. While this was still illegal there were more than two thousand of these casinos operating all over the various independent home lands. With the introduction of online casinos to South Africa there was no actual legislation to determine the status of online casinos within the laws of the country, this resulted in South Africans freely switching over from land based casino gambling to online casino gambling.

2004 National Act: the new South African government established what is known as the National Act of 2004 which directly dealt with online gambling in South Africa by making it an offense to either offer or engage in any online gambling activities. The result was that South African gamblers could no longer join online casinos and the vast majority of international online casinos closed their doors to South African online casino gamblers.

2008 Amendment to the National Gambling Act: in 2008 certain law makers attempted to have the 2004 National Gambling Act overturned but they were met by stiff opposition from the now legal land based casinos. The land based casinos felt that it was most certainly within their best interests if online gambling remained illegal as it was their main source of competition. The government in fact reinforced the National Gambling Act of 2004 with an additional amendment that made it illegal for any international online casino to offer casino gaming services within the borders of South Africa.

Case decision of the Supreme Court in 2011: a case decision of the Supreme Court in 2011 against the Piggs Peak casino group saw the casino lose its battle to legally offer online casino gambling to South African citizens. The Supreme Court sited the 2008 amendment act as its source for the decision against the casino.

The Situation Today

De Facto Legal Status: Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that it was indeed illegal to offer online gambling services to any South African citizens, the reality of the situation is in fact that online casino gambling in South Africa is deemed to be de fact legal, meaning that for South African citizens it is effectively legal to gamble online. The reason why this is possible is that the legislation only deals with the actual online casinos and not the individual players. Recommended casinos all fall outside the jurisdiction of the South African government and currently combined service millions of South African gamblers.

Risks to South African Gamblers: South African gamblers will be relieved to learn that there are no legal risks to them for choosing to gamble online. This means that South African online casino gamblers can carry on depositing funds and playing at international online casinos and can also; more importantly, legally withdraw any and all winnings from these online casinos.

The Future for South African Online Gambling: Currently South African land based casinos are facing a tax hike of over one percent which means that the government is moving towards greater revenue streams from legalized gambling in South Africa. Potentially the next step in the process of legalizing online gambling in South Africa would be the handing out of online gambling licenses, something that has already happened in the United Kingdom.