Is gambling legal in South Africa?

Is gambling legal in South Africa? Image credit: Pexels

Is gambling legal in South Africa?

(Partner Content) Before we take a look at the current gambling laws and regulations in South Africa, we travel back in time to 1673 when the country’s legislators banned all gambling activities except horse racing betting.

Is gambling legal in South Africa?

Is gambling legal in South Africa? Image credit: Pexels

Famous for stunning natural beauty and amazing cultural diversity, South Africa is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and has been since 1994 following the ending of apartheid. 

According toa report, Trading South Africa was visited by almost 300,000 people in September this year. On a yearly basis, South Africa is visited by around 16 million people on average. 

While tourists mostly come to enjoy the country’s spectacular natural wonders, some also come to engage in gambling activities. Locals also have an amazing variety of gambling options whether they want to bet on sports, or enjoy casino games online. 

History of Gambling in South Africa

Gambling activities in the country have been restricted for decades according to the terms of the Gambling Act enforced back in 1965. 

It was not until the 1970s when the very first gambling establishments became operational within the bantustans of Venda, Transkei, Ciskei, and Bophuthatswana. However, only South Africans native to these independent areas could engage in gambling activities.

In the 80s and the middle 90s, around two thousand illegal gambling establishments were operating in South Africa. Once the new democratic South African government was elected in 1994, all forms of gambling activities were legalized. 

One year later, the National Gambling Act started licensing casinos. Around the same time, the South African National Lottery became operational. 

South African Gambling Laws and Regulations

The National Gambling Act that has been in force since 1996 introduced new gambling provisions and regulations that all gambling venues throughout the country must follow. 

The same piece of legislation also introduced uniform gambling standards and forms and new gambling notions. The National Gambling Act also led to the formation of the National Gambling Board

The National Gambling Board is the governmental agency responsible for the regulation and supervision of the entire South African gambling industry. 

Since 1994 when all forms of gambling activities were legalized, numerous legal gambling establishments opened their doors in South Africa. 

The National Gambling Act from 1994 was replaced by the National Gambling Act 2004. Four years later in 2008, the South African government introduced the National Gambling Amendment Act. 

The National Gambling Amendment Act was passed in order to regulate online gambling activities in the country. Around the same time, the GRC (Gambling Review Commission) was established to review gambling failures and successes in South Africa. 

In 2016, the National Gambling Policy was passed by the country’s legislators. It provided gambling operators and players more protection from all forms of illegal gambling activities. 

In addition to the National Gambling Board, legal forms of gambling in South Africa including online casinos and sports betting are also overseen by the South African Department of Trade and Industry. 

More specifically, the Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for developing and maintaining nationwide policies on different gambling activities. 

The Department of Trade and Industry is also responsible for setting nationwide gambling standards and forms that all gambling operators in the country must comply with. 

The National Gambling Board is responsible for overseeing all gambling activities, as well as, issuing and renewing licenses to operators that follow the national gambling standards and norms set by the Department of Trade and Industry. 

Gambling forms that are authorized by the National Gambling Act 2004 are legal and these include land-based and online casinos, bingo venues, online and retail sports betting.