Gambling has always been a favorite pastime by many South Africans. However, this activity has always been controversial since its ban in 1965. Except for activities related to horse racing which has existed as a sport for many decades, all other forms of gambling are illegal in South Africa, including gambling in casinos, all in accordance to the Gambling Act of 1965. In fact, South Africa is one of the countries that has banned online gambling, leaving South African players to resort to other ways in order for them to have access to other online casinos that could possibly allow them to register and gamble.
“Gambling in South Africa has always been a controversial concept in the country since its ban in 1965. Until its legalization in 1995, gambling remained to be a favorite pastime by many South Africans.”
In the 1970s, despite the Gambling Act, casinos started operating in most of the independent areas of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei, and Venda which where native South Africans can be located. However, most citizens were not able to gain access to these casino establishments. These illegal casinos continued to operate on a frequent basis until, in 1994, over 2000 casinos were taken into account and labeled illegal in the country and obviously had been largely ignored by the Apartheid government. Along with the democratic change of the government, the game changed in the history of gambling in South Africa where all forms of gambling were finally made legal. Much of the delight of the South Africans, gambling, more particularly casino gambling became by far the largest component of the gambling market in the country.
The legalization of gambling was all due to the National Gambling Act that was instituted in 1996. The act introduced a system of licensing casinos and a national lottery in South Africa. Through this act, gambling in the country was made organized where different gambling ideas where defined and proper license were given to gambling operators in the country.
The Legal Side of Gambling in South Africa
In the past, despite being a widely enjoyed and accepted form of entertainment in many parts of the world, it had received a traditionally negative view by the government of South Africa, thus, its ban in 1965. However, despite the ban, a large number of casinos operated illegally which were largely ignored by the old government. Until 1994 came, along with the democratic movement in governance, the government took a bold step of legalizing all gambling activities with respect to the gambling laws established since lifting off the ban on gambling in South Africa.
Land-based establishments are completely legal in which a variety of licenses are applied depending on their category and specific product offered to the players. Land-based gambling establishments are divided into 5 different categories — Bingo Casinos, Limited Payout Machines, Racing and Betting and New Forms of Gambling. All forms of gambling that fall in any of these categories are legal, except for gambling establishments operated online which is completely banned in the country.
National Gambling Board
After the government has allowed the legalization of gambling in the country, the National Gambling Board was established which was assigned responsibility for supervising and regulating the gambling activities in the industry. Through this organization, various ideas related to gambling where defined and introduced, all while providing the license to various gambling operators. The NGB monitors all gambling operators with their compliance with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) which focuses on sports betting and horse racing platforms compliance with the legislation.
1996 National Gambling Act
This Act made it possible for gambling in South Africa to be legalized and organized as not only a form of entertainment but as well as a form of income generating activity for the government and its citizens. This gambling act regulated the industry and gave the ability to South Africa’s local provinces to start providing a license to both off-line or physical casinos and online sportsbook. This act basically, has started the building of legalized casinos, national lottery as well as other forms of gambling such as sports betting, and more. However, the government was firm in keeping online casinos illegal in South Africa.
National Gambling Act 2004
Further amendments on the gambling sector were introduced between the year 2004 and 2008. In 2004, the National Gambling Act 2004 was established in which further liberalization was instigated although online casinos remained illegal in the country. The act prohibited any gambling activities that are held via the internet more particularly online casino games such as virtual casino games, poker, and bingo. However, it made the exception of favoring online sports betting and horse race betting, and bookmaking by making them completely legal in the country as long as the operators hold necessary licenses.
National Gambling Amendment Act 2008
This act was made as an attempt to legalize interactive gambling. However, it failed to come into power and online gambling continued to be banned even those online platforms operated through servers located outside the country. While online gambling is continuously banned in South Africa, horse racing and sports betting remain an exception in the gambling ban.
A New Light to Online Gambling in South Africa
While online gambling is considered illegal within the country in general, there are still few casinos that allow players from South Africa that offer many games such as Netent products. Although the government is firm in banning online operators from serving South African players, some online casinos continued with their operations knowing that there is a market in online casinos in South Africa. Regardless of the restriction, these online casinos are licensed under foreign jurisdiction. As much as it is complicated to stop activities that are operating over the internet, it is also complicated to settle with foreign jurisdictions.
Since online gambling is apparently still going on in South Africa despite its ban, the Remote Gambling Bill is being considered by the government. This bill seeks to legalize online gambling in the country for the purpose of generating more tax revenue and to better regulate gambling in South Africa.