South African Gambling Law and History


Gambling has been present in many different forms with humanity for centuries, it is and always has been in human nature to risk and wager on many different levels. It’s no secret that currently, gambling is one of the biggest and fastest-growing industries across the entertainment verticals.

South Africa is no different, with the casino and in general gambling industry revenues are growing year on year with no signs of stopping. Even thou the industry has always been surrounded by a lot of controversies and is still banned in different countries, more and more jurisdictions are working towards legitimating and regulating the business.


Gambling Law history

Gambling and casino games as mentioned before has always been present across the world and of course in South Africa, but it was only in 1965 that all forms of wagering and gambling have been prohibited in South Africa the only thing excluded was the horse racing.  As it has been considered to be a sporting activity the South African Act of 1965 has allowed for its residents to continue betting on it.


The seventies brought a bit of change to the spectrum as some casinos started opening slowly on lands that were independent of the South African Lands like:


  • Transkei
  • Boputhatswana
  • Venda
  • Ciskei


The things slowly started changing more than 20 years later when the political situation has changed in South Africa and 1994 new government has been established, and one of their aims was to start regulating and allowing for the existence of land-based casinos on the South African territory. And there it came in 1996 the new legislation has been ruled that would legalize gambling games and would allow issuing 40 licenses to casinos across the country

(40 may seem like not a lot taking into consideration that it is approximated that around 2000 illegal casinos were already operating on the territory).

This above act allowed each of the South African provinces to be able to set up their legislation on gambling within their borders. The next change was brought in 2004 with an update and consecutively in 2008. That brought into life a National Gaming Board responsible for controlling and overlooking the gambling. Some of its additional responsibilities were:


  • Promoting responsible gaming
  • Controlling and safeguarding the legality of casinos
  • Control over taxes and fees associated with gambling activities


Before introducing the Gambling Acts there were hundreds of illegal operators with no control over the fairness of games or any actual revenue being received by a country with relation to gambling activities.

Now you can find numerous casinos across the whole South Africa, some of the most popular are being based in such cities as:

south african gambling laws

  • Johannesburg
  • Nelspruit
  • Port Edward
  • Secunda
  • Port Elisabeth
  • Sun City
  • Temba
  • Upington
  • Cape Town
  • Kimberley
  • Mabopane
  • Bethlehem
  • Caledon
  • Durban
  • Langebaan


These casinos work as a stand-alone land-based casino or a lot of times are being a part of a larger tourist complex, and we at casinoexplorer are covering some of the most popular ones in one of our other articles. They are in general open the whole week from the afternoon till early mornings, but there are as well quite few that operate 24/7, where the punters can enjoy many different varieties of roulette, blackjack, poker, baccarat, punto banco or more and more popular slot games.


Horse racing

Speaking of South African Gambling laws and history we cannot avoid mentioning horse racing as it’s one of the entertainment activities that has always been allowed and legal before the introduction of 1996 legislation.

There’s many horse racing betting and sports betting operators with the most popular being

  • Sportingbet
  • Winner
  • Hollywoodbets
  • Betway
  • Interbet


Being on the guard of governing horse betting activities in South Africa is the National Horseracing Authority,


Retail Betting

Apart from casinos and online sports operators in South Africa there are numerous retail betting shops spread around the whole country. Each of them is regulated by their province gambling authorities, Supabets and Hollywood bets are some of the biggest betting chains with the majority of outlets around SA.


Online gambling law

The National Gambling Act from 2004 was prohibiting any activities related to online gambling apart from horse racing and sports betting, meaning that all the online casinos in South Africa were deemed illegal. The 2008 introduction of the revised Act was supposed to bring changes to this but that has not happened. Even thou around 2014 the talks were restarted to discuss the full legislation and legalizing gambling both land base as online it still has not been put to action and at this point, Online Casinos in South Africa are illegal, as no online operator can legally offer their services within the borders of South Africa.casinoexplorer gambling law scale

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that South African players that want to enjoy their casino games online cannot do it at all. There are many online operators that are based outside of South Africa that offer this opportunity to our local players. Not only offer the opportunity but some of them have been created and are fully focused on the local players. Offering their games and payment methods in South African Rand, offering local language version of their sites and even local toll-free Customer Service number.

The team at casinoexplorer took their time and expertise to make sure that we can provide you with the best ones that cater to the needs and fancy of South African players. Especially using the local currency is one big plus for these operators as that will let you avoid sometimes hefty conversion fees if it only allows USD, EUR, or any other currency. And bare in mind just the fact that they are not licensed locally doesn’t mean that they’re unsafe as all operators are subject to numerous safety and fairness audits.

In short even thou, online casinos are banned in South Africa, the biggest impact and responsibility of the legislation and upholding the law lies within the operators and financial institutions processing this type of transaction and offerings. In reality, even thou it may not be illegal never any player has been fined or prosecuted within South Africa for indulging in these type of activities, and with regards to operators it’s up to them if they want to offer their services to SA punter, therefore most of the operators that we feature at casinoexplorer are mature online gambling operators that took educated decision to cater their best games and offerings to locals in South Africa and are fully aware of the legality and being safe from any concern about any legal consequences, as they are placed outside of the SA territory.


In short conclusion horse betting, sports betting both online as offline is fully legal and regulated in South Africa with land-based casinos being allowed as well. With regards to online casinos it’s a bit more tricky as online operators are not allowed in SA territory but South African gambling games lovers are spoiled for choice with numerous foreignly licensed operators with mobile and online casinos that are happy to welcome locals with open arms offering them great rewards, free spins, and bonuses.