South Africa is one of the largest economies in Africa. The country has a robust betting market which in 2020 stood at R32.7 billion. According to South Africa’s National Gambling Board, the government was able to raise taxes and duties by R3.2 billion. Moreover, statistics show that one in 10 South Africans participate in gambling. In this blog, we will outline the general laws regarding gambling in South Africa and dive deeper into the online laws, specifically the laws relating to sports betting, casinos, bingo, poker and lottery. The gambling field in South Africa has attracted many players including researchers and analysts like Bettingguide.com who are a known authority in the gambling industry.

Gambling in South Africa before 1996 was illegal, with the exception of horse racing. However, with the rapid growth of business in Africa and around the world, the government has found it necessary to legislate on this and earn the much needed revenue. With the passage of the National Gambling Act of 1996, gambling became legal and in 2004 a National Gambling Policy Council was incorporated into the law which would ensure alignment of policies in national and provincial governments.

national gambling office

The Act introduced the National Gambling Board (NGB) as the regulatory body responsible for ensuring the proper regulation and coordination of gambling in South Africa. The minister responsible for the Department of Trade and Industry convenes and chairs meetings of the National Gambling Policy Council to discuss policy issues with provincial executives responsible for gambling. The body is responsible for reviewing licenses issued by provincial bodies, ensuring that licensees comply with them, as well as initiating research and reporting on the social impact and trends of gambling. .

Provincial licensing authorities

There are nine Provincial Licensing Authorities (PLAs) in the nine provinces of the country. Each PLA has the power, in the province in which it operates, to review and review applications and grant licenses for gambling, racing, casinos and betting. In addition, PLAs undertake inspections to confirm that operators are complying with the National Gambling Act 2004, as well as their provincial legislation.

Having understood the general overview of gambling laws in South Africa, we will now look at the specific laws governing each sector in South Africa.

Online casino laws

Online casino games can be described as products of the coronavirus, with many punters resorting to online casinos during bans on public gatherings. Legislation that legalizes online casinos has often been welcomed by outright dissenters, especially land-based casinos, as it will pose a great threat to them. There was an attempt to legislate the online casino industry through the Remote Gambling Bill 2014, but the bill did not pass. Despite being outright illegal, people still gamble on illegal sites.

Online Bingo Laws

Offline bingo remains very popular in the provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The National Gambling Board had allowed Bingo to be played inside and outside the casino. Gauteng went ahead and included the use of electronic bingo terminals (EBT) which technologically advanced the game of bingo. Other provinces have amended their laws to include EBTs and how they must be conducted. Online bingo has therefore sneaked in via EBTs, although the number and machines remain fairly regulated.

Online Sports Betting Laws

Online sports betting is lawful and legal, despite the lack of a specific law that deals with it. Under the National Gambling Act, all licensed interactive games are allowed to operate in South Africa and can offer online sports betting. Additionally, Sections 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Act list all activities that are not prohibited and list the criminal penalties that may ensue when a person is involved in them.

Online poker laws

There was confusion over the legality of online poker in South Africa until the judiciary expressly ruled and declared this form of gambling illegal. However, it is imperative to recognize three things:

  • Bettors continue to play poker online, especially on international platforms.
  • No one in South Africa has ever been prosecuted for playing online poker.
  • Attempts to legislate on the same subject continue in the nine provinces.

It can therefore be inferred that online poker may be illegal by law, but enforcement of the rules remains to be seen.

Online Lottery Laws

The lottery has been a domestic gambling activity since 1996 after the enactment of the National Gaming Act which legalized it. The law, however, did not encompass the evolution of technology and therefore lacked provisions for online lottery games. This was reinstated by the NGB which banned all forms of online lottery activity. However, South African citizens continue to participate in an online lottery as there is still a gap in this area.

Online gambling laws in South Africa remain very gray in terms of catching up with modern technology which is changing every day. We believe that people will always participate in forms of gaming, especially those with high returns, and therefore urge that the legislature be aware of the changes taking place in the world of technology.

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