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About Online Casinos in South Africa

As you can guess, it’s a pretty common activity, and not to mention, a really fun one too. You can earn some casual money through gambling. Plus, you get to experience the thrill of testing your luck!

What about specific games and their popularity? Well, almost 30% of SA gamblers prefer Slot Machines, while about 12% are heavily into Horse Racing. Meanwhile, the lotto enjoys universal popularity – more than 97% of all South Africans have participated in the lotto, whether occasionally or regularly. Most gambling activity takes place at the various online casinos South Africa.

Keep reading, and you will learn all about the history of gambling in this country, the top online casinos South Africa has, and finally the different factors we use to review the best sites!

History of gambling in South Africa

In South Africa, Gambling was highly restricted as far back as the 1600s. What little activity took place was limited to some race betting or underground establishments for dice and card games. The Dutch settlers were evidently not overly fond of it. Despite that, the economy was prospering with the discovery of local gold and diamond. Indeed, SA is still one of the biggest exporters of diamonds today.

The 1965 Gambling Act 

Although Gambling continued underground, it was eventually put to a full stop by the 1965 Gambling Act. Every single type of betting was made illegal, with harsh penalties. The only type of betting to escape this ban was Horse Racing, expected. After all, it was also rarely banned elsewhere.

From this time until 1994, there were a lot of political upheavals in the country. Throughout this period, illegal underground betting rings operated with full fanfare in certain regions of the country. There were even proper casinos in Bantustan lands and Swaziland. In the central cities, betting establishments were run by the local mob. 

Some experts say there were about 2000 venues at this time – each and every single one of them operating illegally and yet raking in massive amounts of cash. All this economic activity was going to waste, thanks to the overly harsh restrictions set by the government.

The National Gambling Act 

All of this changed when the new government came into power in 1994. They took swift and effective measures to fix this and get the tax income from all that illegal gambling. Most of these measures were enacted in the National Gambling Act of 1996.

Every few years since then, the gambling laws have been regularly updated. So, compared to many other countries or jurisdictions, South Africa has always stayed on top of things. Regular updates ensure that the laws and regulations are always taking the latest trends and developments into account. 

Some of the amendments and updates following the 1996 Act accounted for online betting. In 2004, the operation of internet betting sites in SA was banned. In 2010, they decided to add international operators to this ban as well. It means that there was no way to gamble online legally in South Africa. Both local and international operators were illegal, and it was also illegal for players to participate in it.

Fortunately, in 2014, the government decided to legalize local internet betting. The Remote Bill of 2014 allows operators that are licensed locally to run an online site as well. Now, players could finally visit the top online casinos South Africa has to offer. This came at a time when internet betting was becoming extremely popular and profitable worldwide. They clearly saw they were losing a huge amount of revenue due to a lack of internet betting.

Today, there are about 40 different operators that are licensed and able to operate legally. They are all physical brick-and-mortar casinos, but many of them also have an online version of their site. 

Regulatory Bodies

Regulation and licensing is handled by individual provinces and their regulatory groups include the Eastern Cape Gambling Board, the Gauteng Gambling Board, the KwaZulu-Natal Gaming and Betting Board, the Mpumalanga Economic Regulator, the North West Gambling Board, as well as several others. 

All of these individual provincial regulators are overseen by the National Gambling Board and the Department of Trade and Industry.

In 2019, the gross revenue from gambling was on the order of 30 billion South African Rands, which converts to about 2 billion USD. The National Lottery itself also earns about 4 billion Rands on top of that. The tax revenue from this is immense and can be used to improve infrastructure, education, healthcare, defence, etc. Basically, it helps fund any type of expenditure the Government needs.

How to choose the best casino to play in South Africa

Now that you know the history of online gambling in SA, you can probably appreciate how much effort it took to ensure that you could find the best online casinos South Africa has. Just keep in mind that even though betting at international operators is illegal, it is rarely, if ever, prosecuted. It’s simply too difficult for the government to bother with individual activity. 

Not to mention, if they started putting pressure on people to play on the internet, they might just drive them to even further underground activity!

So, you can play at both the best online casino in South Africa and visit the top international betting sites worldwide. Just don’t advertise the latter out loud!

Online Casinos in SA feature a huge variety of games. Have you ever visited one of the brick-and-mortar establishments in the country? If you have, then you can probably imagine the casino floor, with hundreds of slot games off to one side and dozens of tables packed with players on the other side.

Well, it works the same way on the internet. Most of the best sites offer both Slots titles and table games. The slots are from some of the top software providers in the world, such as NetEnt, Microgaming, Yggdrasil Gaming, IGT, etc. They also have table games like Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Poker, and others. 

Each of these games, in turn, also have their own variants such as French, American and European versions for roulette; or Caribbean Stud, Texas Hold’em, Casino Hold’em, Seven-Card, Five Card and other variants for poker. Generally, there’s more than enough game variety that you’ll never get bored.

There’s also sports and horse racing betting. Both of them have some dedicated sites, but most internet betting sites also cover them. With Sports Betting, you can cheer your favourite teams on and stake your money on their victory. It’s quite exhilarating and is the second most popular type of betting in SA, just behind casino slots and games.

Is online gambling in South Africa legal and safe?

Since internet gambling in SA was illegal until recently, many players are still not very confident about trying it out. After all, they were brought up to believe that gambling isn’t a good thing. However, that’s not the case at all! If you try it out, you’ll realize it’s just a fun pastime that lets you earn some money if you’re lucky.

Remember, every other type of entertainment costs money, whether it’s watching a movie, playing a video game, visiting a concert, or something else. If you lose money while gambling, just treat it as the cost of fun!

Is it legal? 

Like we mentioned earlier, it used to be illegal. Since the amendments in 2014, it’s now perfectly legal to play at an online casino that is based in SA.

As for international ones based out of other countries, the situation is a bit more complex. It is not legal to play at those sites. However, the police and government can’t afford to hunt down every single person who does it. It’s better to let some of it slide between the cracks rather than spend extreme amounts of time and money to seal everything properly.

If you play at an international site, you won’t have any real issues. Generally, your IP address will be blocked and you’ll be forced to use a VPN to access it. That’s a small price to pay for the ability to play the top online casinos South Africa and Internationally both! We don’t actually recommend it, but you’re free to go ahead.

Is it safe? 

The question of safety is a little more difficult to answer. Even though it is generally safe, it is up to the player to ensure that. Consider it to be something like driving. Driving is normally safe, even though there are a lot of accidents all the time. You just need to keep an eye out and follow some basic rules.

You have probably heard a lot of horror stories about illegal and fraudulent sites that steal your money. Those do exist, but it is also fairly easy to avoid them. Let’s look at how you can stay safe and yet play at the best online casinos South Africa offers.

The first step is to look for a license. This license is given out by either one of the local gaming regulatory boards mentioned previously, or by an international jurisdiction like Malta, Gibraltar, Alderney, the UK, and many more. These international regulators are highly regarded and trusted pretty much everywhere.

If you see the license on the site, it means that the casino is reliable and trustworthy. These licensors check if an operator has proper security and encryption and if they are using fair games. A scam site or phishing page would not be able to pass the tests. 

If you are still unsure, you can check the registration number and look it up on the official registers. It is quite impossible for scammers to fake this bit.

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How we rated online casinos in South Africa?

Now that you know it’s safe and secure, you’re ready to pick out an online casino, right? That’s why you are here at an online casinos review site, after all.

We have a list of recommendations here. You might just find the best online casino in South Africa for yourself by scanning through it. Exactly which one will be the best depends from person to person. So, we encourage you to try out a few of the sites that look appealing.

Our judging process for these sites included the following criteria:

1

Reliability and Trust

Safety is a big deal. We’ve already discussed licensing, but there are also other steps an operator can take to show itself as reliable and trustworthy. For example, it could get audited by an organization such as eCOGRA or TST, which test if the games are biased or not. They could also work with various organizations dealing with Problem Gambling and try to ensure Responsible Gaming practices, in order to help their players avoid addiction and other problems.

Reliability and Trust
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Bonuses and Promotions

If you have been around internet betting for any amount of time, then you know that almost every single site offers lots of bonuses and promotional offers. We took these bonuses into account. In addition to having a big bonus offer worth a lot of money, the best online casinos South Africa has should offer fair and achievable terms. For instance, there’s no point in a bonus that’s worth $500 if the wagering requirement is something ridiculous like 200x – an amount most players won’t ever be able to fulfil. A more realistic wagering requirement would be 35x or 50x.

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Selection of Games

Finally, we come to the Games. After all, this is what you are here for. This is easily the most important of all the criteria we’ve been testing. The best sites will have a good number of games for all genres. For slots, it should have both video and classic titles, as well as some unique ones. For table games, each game should have plenty of variants. The games should be fair and unbiased, have high RTPs, and be from well-known software providers. If the majority of the games in the library can tick off these factors, then we assume that the casino is all good on this front!

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Support for Multiple Platforms

We use our phones for almost everything nowadays. So, why not for gambling as well? Many would prefer to visit a site from their phones. So, it is important that these sites offer that capability. Mobile support can be through either a website or an app. The mobile version should include all the features of the desktop/web version, optimized for use on a smaller screen.

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Customer Support and Banking

Before you can play, you have to deposit some money. The operator should support a wide range of deposit methods, or else many people won’t be able to play. Generally, credit cards and bank transfers are accepted. However, not everyone has a card or bank account. So, it is better to support additional methods, including electronic payment like PayPal, e-wallets like Neteller or Skrill, or prepaid cards like PaySafeCard. If there are any issues during deposits or withdrawals, then players will be contacting customer support. Therefore, it is important that the customer service is available at all times and helpful.

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VIP and Loyalty Programs

There are additional rewards and benefits for the most dedicated players. They help retain veteran players in the long run. We check if the Loyalty rewards at a particular site are worth it or not. Similarly, VIP clubs ensure that high rollers and wealthy players feel right at home, so we check the benefits from the VIP program as well.

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