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Gambling in South Africa

From very early days, gambling in South Africa has been heavily restricted. Indeed, in 1965, the Gambling Act banned all forms of gambling except for betting on horse racing. Despite this, many South Africans still had the urge to gamble, and in the early 1970’s, a number of casinos opened for business in the independent homelands of Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda. By 1995, the number of these illegal casinos had grown to more than 2,000.

However, this all changed when a new, democratic, government took control in 1994, as gambling was legalized, paving the way for the licensing of casinos in 1996’s National Gambling Act. This act distributed 40 gambling licenses across the country’s provinces, establishing legal casinos, a national lottery and other forms of gaming under the control of the newly established National Gambling Board.

A new National Gambling Act came into force in 2004, with the National Gambling Amendment Act appearing in 2008. These two pieces of legislation were aimed at smoothing the transition to modern and online gambling. As such, most provinces offer online betting solutions, but as of 2014, online gambling as a whole is still illegal.

This is despite a 2011 Gambling Review Commission report that urged new online gambling regulations to open the market up. Indeed, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has repeatedly suggested that regulated online gambling is on its way, yet there is still no movement on the legislative front.

Despite this, the gambling industry just keeps growing in South Africa. According to the Casino Association of South Africa as many as 5% of all South Africans gamble too much. From April 2012, 15% of all gambling related wins (including the lottery) over R25,000 ($3600) will be kept by the government to 'discourage excessive gambling'.

Online Gambling in South Africa

Despite the legalization of casinos and online betting in South Africa, online gambling in the form of casino games, poker and other such games of chance has yet to come to the African nation. This is despite repeated promises from the South African government and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in particular.

Indeed, a report in 2011 found that online gambling should be regulated, but this has still to happen at the start of 2014. South Africans are sometimes still able to gamble at foreign based casinos, however, despite this being technically illegal – as stated on the National Gambling Board website.

There has been no movement since a 2011 court case found Piggs Peak Casino was unable to offer gambling services in South Africa. The company had suggested that the position of their servers in Swaziland meant there should be no impediment to their operation within South Africa. This suggestion was thrown out, however, and gambling at foreign online casinos is actively dissuaded nowadays.