South Africa is a country which restricts online gambling. There are a few notable exceptions, of course, such as the national lottery, sports betting (to a degree) and horse racing. Despite the relatively strict approach South Africa takes to online gambling, many citizens continue to flout the laws of the country by betting on the internet. Is that a good idea, though, and what punishments might a South African face? It is always a good idea to check before you make up your mind.
Is Online Gambling Legal in South Africa?
In a word – sometimes. Online sportsbooks are legal, and so far horse racebooks, and online sites linked to South Africa’s national lottery. However, these are only deemed applicable if they are licensed out of the country, by the Lotteries and Gambling Board (now the National Gambling Board).
Online gambling in casinos or poker sites is illegal. Despite a 2004 legalizing online casinos, and a 2008 law which promised to regulate the industry, a new bill passed in 2010 effectively outlawed all forms of internet gambling save for those mentioned above. A Court of Appeals decision saw the law upheld when it was challenged. The result was that any operator (foreign or local) would not be permitted to offer casino, card or bingo games to players.
Worst was to come. The new law made it quite clear that anybody caught either offering internet betting services to South Africans or national citizens who choose to bet online at illegal websites, would be punished.
South African Online Casinos
South Africa may be home to numerous land-based casinos, and online sportsbooks, but as a player, you are unlikely to find any licensed South African casinos. The government is of the mind that gambling online leads to unfair and illegal practices and that they only way to avoid this was outlawing it, even though many opposition parties argued that plenty of revenue could be made by regulating the industry.
It is not impossible that a licensed South African sportsbook “may” carry one or two casino games on the sly, but few are prepared to do so. If citizens wish to play online then, they have no option but to frequent casinos which are inherently illegal and not licensed out of the country; so-called offshore casinos.
Offshore Casino Sites for South African Players
It seems simple enough to just sign-up at a foreign casino site. After all, there are many out there which cater to South Africans, and even offer the rand currency to make things easier. However, there are one or two things you may wish to read up on first. You can, for instance, be punished if caught.
In theory, any player caught playing online could be liable for a fine which can rise up to R10,000,000, a prison sentence of up to 10 years, or the worst possible outcome – both. This law doesn’t just affect players, but also the operators of online casino enterprises, and even banks which process gambling related transactions.
That naturally makes players sit up and take note. However, there has not been one reported case of a South African player being charged or prosecuted for playing online. It seems that the authorities are only really interested in the operators, so many nationals choose to play at offshore sites anyway.
Is Anything Likely to Change in the Future?
Given that South African gambling laws have been chopped and changed so many times in the last 20 years, it is entirely possible that a new law is in the wind. Even recently, the government was discussing a Remote Gambling Bill which would regulate the industry and effectively legalize internet casino gaming for players, provided that the operators of such sites applied for a South African license from the National Gambling Board.
As always, there is opposition to the bill, and at the time of writing, it has not yet passed. Several studies are ongoing to examine the effect of having a fully legalised and regulated industry, with many of those also focusing on the aspects of gambling on health and personal finances. Even a positive outcome in those studies may not convince the South African government to shift stance, though. As a result, the future of South African online gambling laws is very much a wait and see affair.
Top South African Casino Sites
Given the potential penalties for South African players involved in betting online at international sites, we wouldn’t recommend that they play. However, for South Africans based abroad, such as expats, there are no such dangers. There is also an ample supply of top offshore South African casino sites for them to join and get in on the action with.
Any South African player will find a host of sites which cater to their needs on this page. Ones of renown which may be worth a look include Paradise Casino, Cleopatra, bgo Casino, MobileBet.com, Slot Planet Casino, Mansion Casino, Get Lucky, Fruity King, and Vegas Paradise, amongst others.