Sports Betting in South Africa – Is it Legal?

Sports in South Africa

If you’re wondering whether sports betting and online gambling is legal in South Africa, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to help you gain a better understanding of the history of sports betting and also clear up any confusion about a number of the rules currently in place.

There are some very strict rules in place regarding online betting in South Africa. The good news is that it’s not completely banned. In the past things were a little difficult because the rules that form part of the National Gambling Act were not altogether clear.

Gambling in South Africa

Ever since 1673, gambling in South Africa has been severely restricted. The Gambling Act of 1965 officially banned all forms of gambling except betting on horse racing. Towards the end of the 1970s casinos started operating in the independent areas called homelands. Only native South Africans lived in these areas and most weren’t able to access such establishments. Figures from 1995 such there were as many as 2000 illegal casinos operating in the country.

1994 saw a new democratic government taking powered and all forms of gambling were legalized. The National Gambling Act 1996 introduced a system of licensed casinos as well as a single national lottery. Horse racing was also proclaimed as a legal gambling activity. The Act made provisions for the regulation of activities relating to gambling and uniform standards were introduced. The National Gambling Board was also established and became responsible for the supervision and regulation of the gambling industry.

The 2004 National Gambling Act banned online interactive gambling. However, this did not apply to online betting for sport related events. Betting on horse racing, rugby and football, for example, was allowed and was very popular because it was the only form of gambling that was allowed.

Further laws were passed in 2010 that made online gambling on servers located outside of the country illegal. However, sports-related betting was still allowed. Unless the gambling website offered other online gambling services as well as sports betting.

Horse betting

Right up until 1996, any punters wanting to gamble on horse racing had to do it at the track. After 1996, it became possible for players to gamble online and horse betting is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa.

Rugby betting

This is one of the most popular forms of sports betting in South Africa. There are a number of websites that allow players to bet on the latest rugby games, but not if other online gambling services are offered. Websites like these are banned.

The licensing of online betting sites

Anyone looking for somewhere to place their sports bets should look for a licensed online betting site. There are currently nine boards in South Africa who are able to license online betting sites. The main provider is the WCGRB, Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board, but there are actually a licensing board located in each province. So far, there are 32 licensed online websites at which South Africans can gamble legally. It does, however, come at a price. For horse betting, 6% of the total winnings is deducted in fees. No additional tax is taken from a recreational better, because betting winnings are not seen as an income.

Over the years there have been many laws and acts passed to stop online gambling. Sports betting is one type of gambling that’s not been affected. An increasing number of people now enjoy sports betting online so it looks set to be an industry that will grow from strength to strength.

For online casinos the story is a little different. There have been numerous attempts over the years to make online casinos legal. A 2011 report found that online gambling should be made legal, but this has still not happened. There have been repeated promises from the South African government and Trade and Industry Ministers that online gambling in the form of casino games such as poker will be made legal. But nothing concrete has happened. At least not yet.

Offering gambling services online and gambling online is still illegal. The exceptions to this rule are province licensed horse racing and online sports betting. Individuals, internet service providers, casino sites and banks processing payments for online gambling are risking a R 10 million fine or 10 years of imprisonment. Even media and TV channels advertising online gambling services can be held liable.