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Is Online Betting Legal in South Africa?
Whether online betting is legal in South Africa is a question we often get asked, so let's give you all the facts to help clear the air. The laws around online betting in South Africa have chopped and changed so much in the past few decades that it's no surprise that so many people get confused.
We provide an overview of gambling laws in South Africa, discuss how these regulations affect online betting and take a look at the way forward for bookies offering both sports and casino betting.
Is Online Betting Legal in South Africa?
Without going into too much detail about the history of gambling in South Africa, knowing some key info is important. Since 1996, gambling in South Africa has been regulated by the National Gambling Board (NGB). Among other things, they are responsible for determining which forms of gambling are allowed in the country and for regulating these activities.
The next thing you need to know is that each of South Africa's nine provinces has its own gambling and racing board. To offer any form of retail or online betting, bookmakers must be licensed by their respective boards. The Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board is currently the largest provider of online bookmaker licenses in South Africa.
Now that you know who's responsible for creating and enforcing the laws around gambling in South Africa, let's get to the million-dollar question...
Yes, online betting is legal in South Africa as long as you play with a registered bookmaker who is licensed by one of the recognised provincial gambling boards. When it comes to types of online betting which are permitted in South Africa, however, there are some distinctions we need to make.
Online Sports Betting
Online sports betting is 100% legal with a licensed bookmaker in South Africa and there are more than 50 licensed online bookmakers where you are fully permitted to play. You can place sports bets and withdraw funds legally while paying zero tax on any winnings (aside from horse racing).
If you'd like to know if the betting site you are using is legal in South Africa then have a look at the bottom of the homepage to see where they are licensed. If they are licensed by one of the provinces in South Africa then it's completely legal to bet or gamble on that site.
Online Lotteries (Lucky Numbers)
Betting on the Lotto online in South Africa is permitted under the Lotteries Act of 1997. Before playing, always verify the registration status of the lottery and game provider for your protection. Playing Lucky Numbers games where you have the opportunity to bet on international lotteries through a licensed online bookmaker is 100% legal.
Online Casinos (BetGames, Live Games)
South African law does not currently make provisions for casino and "other" games such as the BetGames and Live Games offered by many online bookmakers. The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 attempted to legalise all forms of "interactive" or "remote" gambling in South Africa and make provisions for its regulation.
Types of gambling included here are all online betting games currently available in South Africa. However, at the time, this move was challenged by land-based casinos and anti-money laundering authorities. As a result, this Act—which would basically legalise any form of online betting in South Africa with a licensed operator—has not yet come into law.
Can I play Casino Games in the meantime?
Although the law remains unclear, for now, it seems as long as you play Casino and Live Games with a licensed online bookmaker like Betway, Sportingbet, Hollywoodbets and many others, you'll be absolutely fine. To date, no bookmakers and punters that we know of have been fined or prosecuted for taking bets or playing these games respectively.
And some good news—the Remote Gambling Bill drafted in 2014, should bring some much-needed clarity to the situation around online betting in South Africa. If passed, this Bill will adequately provide for the regulation and licensing of "remote" gambling, helping to set the norms and standards by which online bookmakers in South Africa must operate.
For more about online sports betting and casinos in South Africa, visit the Betting Guide homepage where you can find bookmaker reviews, promotions, betting tips and more.