Legal Online Casinos in South Africa
If you’re searching for legal online casinos in South Africa, you’re on the right page. Although the act of online casino gambling is strictly prohibited in South Africa, there are many safe and reputable sites that openly accept SA players. We’ve compiled a list of legit online casinos to help you get started, and our comprehensive guide also covers everything from how to identify safe casinos to current gambling laws.
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South Africa’s Gambling Laws & Regulations
If you’ve ever been to a country where gambling is outlawed in any way, you’ll know that just because the law says one thing, it doesn’t mean everybody follows it to the letter. Companies will endeavour to find legal loopholes – or simply defy the laws outright – if they’re getting in their way.
In a sense, this is the case in South Africa. Technically, online gambling is outlawed as per section 11 of the National Gambling Act of 2004. However, many offshore casinos offer their services to players in South Africa. These are technically legal online casinos – they don’t have a physical presence in the country, so the owners can welcome South African players without consequence.
Here’s an overview of three acts relating to the legality of gambling in South Africa:
The Gambling Act of 1965
Gambling in South Africa has been discouraged since the 1670s, but it was in 1965 that legislation was introduced to help curb gambling from a legal standpoint. This clampdown on various types of gambling notably excluded betting on horse racing, which was still seen as fair and legal. Interestingly, land-based casinos would begin to emerge just a few years after the Gambling Act of 1965. These casinos were targeted exclusively to people living in South Africa, not tourists.
The National Gambling Act of 1996
Fast forward to 1996 and the National Gambling Board (NGB) has been established, brought in to tackle the 2,000+ illegal casinos operating throughout South Africa. Previously, you could only bet on horse racing, but this new act added casinos and even a national lottery. This meant the government could benefit from gambling activities taking place in the country. It was a more relaxed period in the history of South African gambling.
The National Gambling Act of 2004
Eight years later, the National Gambling Act of 2004 replaced the 1996 Act. Its predecessor made no explicit mention of online gambling, but the 2004 legislation sought to rectify that. Still, people were confused about what was and wasn’t legal, and challenged the law – so much so that, in 2008, a bill was almost passed which would have made online gambling completely legal.
With that in mind, our experts believe there could be significant changes in the years to come which may well make it easier to access legal South African online casinos.
Legal Online Gambling in South Africa
So, is it legal to gamble online in South Africa? The technical answer is no – but the reality is a lot more ambiguous.
To provide legal online casinos in South Africa, many of the companies involved have no presence in the country. This makes them impervious to South Africa’s online gambling laws, as they are operating outside of their jurisdiction.
When it comes to the government enforcing these laws, their focus leans heavily towards online casinos and the companies behind them – not individual players. That’s why it is unheard of to hear about players being fined or punished by the government for playing casino games online. Instead, the government concern themselves with the source of online gambling and target the operators.
In fact, it’s not only players who tend to evade legal action – there are also very few instances of the government prosecuting the companies that run offshore casinos.
How to Identify Legit Online Casinos
At Casinos.co.za, our experts have reviewed every online casino that accepts South African players to help you find safe and reputable sites. Because of the current legal status of online gambling in South Africa, you can’t benefit from the usual safeguards that are in place for players in other countries. With no licensing process in place, it’s vital that you know how to identify legit online casinos.
One easy way to do this is to read our honest and unbiased casino reviews. But if you want to test online casinos yourself, here’s six of the many factors you should consider before signing up and making a deposit:
You won’t find sites with a South African gambling licence, but that doesn’t mean you should use an unlicensed site. Instead, look for casinos which have been licensed by respected regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gambling Authority (MGA) and the Curaçao Gaming Control Board. Licensed casinos are subject to regular audits to ensure games are fair and random, and that everything else is above board.
You should also consider the reputation of the casino’s parent company. We trace the company’s history to see how many casinos they operate and whether the group has been linked to any rogue casinos in the past. If there are any red flags, such as players reporting slow payouts or even withholding funds altogether, it’s a sign to steer clear. Otherwise, you could be the next player to report a bad experience.
The more measures a casino has in place to protect you and your funds, the more likely it is for us to recommend it. These days, a simple password just doesn’t cut it. Instead, we look for SSL encryption, the option for players to use two-factor authentication (2FA), and much more. This helps ensure that you can not only play safely at the site, but also enter your payment method details with peace of mind.
Casinos that offer generous welcome offers to South African players feature higher on our list, but only if they have realistic terms and conditions. It’s much more important for a welcome offer to have low wagering requirements than it is for the total sum of the bonus to be extremely high. Always read the small print to ensure the T&Cs are fair to avoid any unwanted surprises when you try to withdraw.
A variety of casino banking methods not only means more flexibility for you but is also an indication of a legit online casino. For instance, while there are indeed many new casinos which are crypto-only, this could also be a sign that the people running the company are planning to flee with your funds. If you see Visa and Mastercard logos alongside the likes of Skrill and Neteller, you can deposit without concern.
Browsing the game library is another important step in finding legit online casinos in South Africa. Market-leading software providers such as Microgaming and NetEnt only ink content deals with trustworthy casinos. If you join a casino and the lobby is filled with games from unknown software providers, this could be a sign that they are not a known and reliable casino. It might be time to run.
Responsible Gambling Measures at Legal Online Casinos
It’s essential that you only play at licensed online casinos in South Africa, but that is just a starting point. Each casino has its own responsibilities to make sure that you’re able to play in a safe environment. If a casino offers some or all the services listed below, it’s more likely they have your best interests at heart.
Here are four measures to look out for:
Nobody enjoys the laborious process of proving your identification to an online casino, and it can be frustrating when it doesn’t go smoothly, which can lead to delays in your playing time and withdrawals. But it’s an essential step that online casinos take to ensure you are who you say you are. And to cut out money laundering and other illegal practices.
Illegal or legal online casinos in South Africa that rush through the registration process and allow you to deposit, play and withdraw without once checking your identity may not be trustworthy. If such casinos are shut down, your funds could be frozen – even if they didn’t intend for that to happen. That’s why identity verification is very important, for both players and casinos.
Allowing players to make specific, calculated limits to their account is certainly a sign that you’re playing at a legit online casino. These measures can be put in place to help you customise your settings to ensure you never overstep the mark.
Account limits can include maximum deposits, so you won’t be able to reload funds after hitting a certain threshold. And playing time, so you’ll receive a message telling you your time is up after a predetermined amount of time has passed. These are great tools to keep your play in check, or just to use as a safety net so you don’t get carried away.
A more extreme and final variant of account limiting is self-exclusion, where you stop yourself from being able to access a casino account altogether. This can be for a certain amount of time – such as a day, week or month – or a permanent ban, covering both desktop and mobile gambling.
This is an important option to have, and you should take advantage of such measures if you feel your gaming habits are spiralling out of control. If a casino has this as an option, it’s clear they see the very serious risks of problem gambling and are giving you an option to help avoid it.
In South Africa, players must be 18 years or over to gamble legally. And it’s the casino’s responsibility to ensure that all their players are old enough to be playing on their site.
There are many methods a casino can use to check whether their players are 18 or above, including the aforementioned identity verification. They’ll get in trouble with their licensing body if they’re not making these checks, and you could one day find your account is locked and the casino has been taken down.
The Future of Legal Online Casinos in South Africa
We’ve spoken about the history of legal online casinos in South Africa, but what does the future hold?
If you look at the various gambling acts which have been introduced in South Africa, you’ll notice that they’re being updated more and more regularly. That includes the National Gambling Amendment Bill of 2018, adding more regulation to casino and legalised sports betting.
A recent increase in taxes on land-based casinos in South Africa might sound negative, but it’s actually a positive prospect for those of you looking for legal online casinos in South Africa. This increased tax indicates that the government recognise the positive benefits gambling can have on the country.
Imagine if all those legit online casinos based outside of the country were welcomed into South Africa through a licensing process. This would result in a huge financial windfall for the government and is surely a regular point of discussion every time a new gambling act is introduced.
Betway partnered with Authentic Gaming in South Africa in late 2021, who said they saw “huge potential for casino in the region”. Their portfolio brings South Africa suggests legal online casinos could become a reality in years to come.
For now, we shall have to wait and see what changes the South African government may make. In the meantime, you can easily play at the casinos recommended on this page with complete safety.
Ready to Play Your Favourite Casino Games?
Now that you’re up to speed on the state of legal online casinos in South Africa, you’re probably looking to get gaming yourself. If you use the links to casinos provided on this page, you can deposit and play in an environment which has already been reviewed, tested and approved by industry experts.
If you’re looking for an online casino with a generous welcome bonus and an ever-growing game library, sign up at our casino of the month below:
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