online gambling

South Africa’s journey to regulate the gambling industry. Image: Supplied

South Africa’s journey to regulate the gambling industry

South Africa’s gambling industry went from being illegal to regulated, with various laws introduced to ensure a safe and fair environment.

online gambling

South Africa’s journey to regulate the gambling industry. Image: Supplied

In the past, gambling in South Africa, except horse betting, was not allowed. The Wiehahn Commission recognized the potential benefits of regulating gambling, such as generating revenue and creating jobs. 

The government passed the National Gambling Act in 1996. It incorporated Wiehahn Commission’s recommendations and set the stage for a regulated gambling industry in South Africa. Over time, South Africa has made notable advancements in its gambling regulations.

Authorities amended the Act in 2004 to further enhance the regulatory framework. The revisions led to the establishment of the National Gambling Policy Council. It focused on harmonising national and provincial policies. 

The government also tried to regulate interactive gambling through the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008, although South Africa has yet to implement it.

In 2009, the government appointed the Gambling Review Commission (GRC) to conduct a comprehensive review of the successes and failures of gambling in the country. This agency also assesses the possibility of introducing new gambling activities. The GRC released its report in 2010, recommending policy reforms.

The cabinet also passed the National Gambling Policy in 2016, which was followed by the National Gambling Amendment Bill. The bill provided more protection for both gamblers and operators against illegal gambling.

Now, the regulation of gambling in South Africa involves the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Gambling Board (NGB) and Provincial Licensing Authorities (PLAs). The DTI develops a national policy on gambling and establishes national norms and standards for the provinces to follow. 

The NGB ensures that provincial licensing authorities follow national norms and standards, while the PLAs are crucial in promoting responsible gambling and providing a safe and fair environment.

Online gambling regulations in South Africa

Online casino games have grown in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic. It attracts many players who turn to online platforms during public gathering restrictions.

The legalisation of online casinos has faced significant opposition, particularly from brick-and-mortar establishments. These land-based casinos perceive online casinos as a threat to their operations.

The government introduced the Remote Gambling Bill in 2014 to regulate the online casino industry. However, the bill did not pass. Despite its status, people continue to engage in online gambling with real money in South Africa

Several online casinos are available for South African players, including Zar Casino, Springbok Casino, Casino Tropez and Hollywoodbets Spina Zonke.

Online sports betting is also considered legal, despite the lack of a specific law governing it. The National Gambling Act allows any interactive game with a proper license to operate legally in South Africa, including online sports betting. 

Bingo is a well-liked game among players in various South African provinces, such as Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The NBG authorised the play of Bingo both inside and outside of casinos. Gauteng has taken it further by introducing electronic bingo terminals (EBTs) that have enhanced the game with advanced technology. 

Other provinces have also updated their regulations to include EBTs and their use. While the number of machines remains regulated, online bingo has made an entrance through the use of EBTs.

Online poker in South Africa, however, has been debated due to the uncertainty surrounding its legality. It was only recently that the judiciary ruled that online poker is illegal. Despite this ruling, many people still play online poker.

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