Is Online and Mobile Gambling Legal in South Africa

People have been gambling since the beginning of time. It really did not matter to many if it was legal or illegal. the Legality of Gambling in SA has been strictly controlled for centuries. The Gambling act of 1965 banned almost all forms of gambling in South Africa. The only gambling that was allowed was horse racing.

Despite the ban on gambling, casinos still operated in South Africa. They were run in the independent areas of South Africa known as the Homelands. Illegal casinos were also operating throughout South Africa. The 1996 National Gambling Act allowed for licensed casinos and the National Lottery.

The original National Gambling Act of 1996 was repealed in 200 and in 2008 the National Gambling Amendment Act was introduced. Since that time, the growth of gambling in South Africa has brought it to people in many different ways including casinos, lotteries sports wagering and online gambling.

Online Gambling

Online Gambling 2
Online Gambling

The act of 2008 was about to legalize online gambling, but it was not able to accomplish this at first. In 2010, it was illegal for businesses to process payments for the online gamblers and violators were subject to fines of up to 10 million, prison terms up to 10 years, or both.

The problem is that it is not illegal to operate a gaming website on the internet in South Africa. Operating it as a legal casino is a different story. Sports books and horse race betting sites are a able to get the licenses they need to operate in South Africa. Casinos have tried to use servers outside of South Africa to operate and to handle payments, but these can be blocked by South Africa and can lead to the possible punishments if the rules are violated.

There are several South African Online Casinos that you can easily find on the internet. They are all trying to get the license by the Government so they can legally operate as a casino in South Africa. It is possible for the casinos to get the license in jurisdictions that do allow gambling. It is also possible for people in the South Africa regions to access the online casino sites.

There are also poker rooms you can find in and around South Africa. These are running into the same issues as the casinos are struggling to get the license to operate in South Africa.

What’s Next

What’s Next

The biggest question that people have is what is next in South Africa. Fully licensed online casinos are going to eventually become legal in South Africa. The law is already there to allow for the licensing of the online casinos. It is now down to implementing it.

The online casinos have one thing in their favor. They offer the countries where they operate a revenue stream that is growing quickly. South Africa will eventually want to get their cut of the money that is being spent at the online casinos and will find a way around the stalemate that seems to exist. When that happens, playing at the online casinos in South Africa will get much easier.

Mobile Gambling Legal in South Africa

Mobile Gambling Legal in South Africa
What exactly is legal?

As per NGA “gambling activities” include:

  • Placing bets or wagers, or of any value, on fixed-odds bets, open bets with bookmakers;
  • Playing bingo, electronic bingo, or offering bingo;
  • Accepting or placing totalisator bets;
  • Playing any gambling game with a chance of receiving money whether by skill or luck and/or making such a game available; and
  • Playing any fun game with a restricted reward.

Legal gambling includes:

1. Casinos


This includes land-based casinos by any measure is the heart of the South African gambling industry. As per NGB figures, they contribute to 70.5 percent of the total gross gambling revenue (GGR) of R26 billion. It offers 64 000 jobs, according to Casa.

2. Limited-payout Machines

These are gambling machines that offer limited amounts you can bet and win, operated at licensed venues like pubs and gaming arcades. They experience good revenue growth from year to year (13.7 percent in 2015/16) and accounted for nine percent of total GGR in 2016.

3. Bingo


Most operational licenses to operate electronic bingo terminals (EBTs) are in Gauteng. They are also a matter of dispute for the casino industry. EBTs are no different from casino slot machines, and it works without the infrastructure or social obligations of a casino. Bingo revenue dropped by more than 16 percent in 2016 accounted for 3.6 percent of total GGR. This is the case of the Legality of Gambling in SA.

4. Horse Racing

Horse Racing 1
Horse Racing

It’s a popular sport in South Africa since the 1700s, but it is now in decline. But as per research betting on horse racing still supersedes all other sports betting generating R1.9 billion on the horses.

5. Sports Betting via a Licensed Bookmaker

Sports Betting via a Licensed Bookmaker
Sports Betting via a Licensed Bookmaker

This is the only legal online option to place bets when it comes to the Legality of Gambling in SA. The legitimacy of this type of gambling goes with the fact that the internet is merely the medium of communication. The results of the betting take place elsewhere. The combined (sports and horse racing) betting industry grew in revenue terms by almost 28.5 percent in 2015/16.

6. The National Lottery

The National Lottery
The National Lottery

The licensed local lottery operators can conduct their business online or in a retail space, so there are several websites offering lottery games. The revenue from this has accounted for R4 426 million.

Buying offshore lottery tickets is illegal, but you can take online bets like the EuroMillions, through the relatively new website Lottostar ( It has been functioning for more than two years and has delivered R180 million in winnings.

Impact of Online Gambling

Impact of Gambling
Impact of Online Gambling

In South Africa, at least five percent of the money on gambling goes to illegal websites, as per Casa. Casa is neutral on the question of legalization. If online gambling becomes legal, Casa would become online operators.

Gambling on personal computers is a small part of the problem; most online gambling in South Africa is conducting on-premises that call themselves internet cafés and entertainment lounges. The Legality of Gambling in SA is confusing. They are not legal, use illegal software from other countries, and operate in cash for as long as they can get away with it.

About the author

Rebecca Brown