Wagering in South Africa

From the year 1673, South Africa has been under stringent laws which prohibited various forms of gambling. An act of government passed in the year 1965 which stated that all forms of gambling were illegal save for betting on horse races. Horse racing was regarded to be a sporting activity, and thus it missed the cut.

However, this law proved ineffective as during the 1970s, casinos sprouted in the homelands of Ciskei, Venda and other areas in the interior of the country. Very few South Africans could access these areas, and the locals frequented these casinos.

Thirty years after the passing of the Act, about two thousand casinos were in operation in the country. When a democratic government took over the power in the country in 1994, all types of gambling became legal. In the year 1996, a law was passed by the government, the National Gambling Act. With the passing of this bill, a system of licensed casinos, as well as a lottery system, was instituted. The law also recognized betting on horses to be a form of gambling.

The Act gave measures which were necessary for the regulation of gambling activities, and it went ahead to provide the standards that needed following. It also gave the processes which were imperative in the issuing of gambling licenses and how much liability would come with the grants.

The National Gambling Act gave rise to the National Gambling Board which would oversee the regulation of gambling activities across all the provinces in the country. In the year 2004, a law came into being, and it led to the repeal of the National Gambling Act. Four years later, the National Gambling Amendment Act came to be.

Prevalence and value of gambling in South Africa

A study conducted in the year 2006 revealed the popularity of various forms of gambling to be as follows. The National Lottery had 96.9% of the gambling populace; slot machines took up 27.7%, scratch cards at 22.7%, charity jackpot competitions took up 11.6%, and horse race bets stood at 11.5%.

About 8.3% of the people interviewed said that they did not participate in any forms of betting while 5.5% said that they were not active gamblers but did enjoy the occasional wager. For the financial year, 2006/07 revealed that gambling revenue amounted to thirteen point five two billion Rands. This income was an increase from the previous fiscal year’s eleven point four billion Rands.

Eighty-six point two percent of the revenue collected from gambling came from casinos. During the same period, over four hundred raids took place on illegal casinos in the country.

Types of gambling in SA

The National Lottery

This system came to be in the year 2000 and has been in operation ever since. In the year 2007, the lottery got suspended between April and October. During its last year of service, its transaction revenues stood at three point nine billion Rands, showing an average of about five million transactions a week.

These numbers show that the lottery is by far the most popular form of gambling in the country. South Africa is one of the countries that have made it to the top of the list of the nations that take part in the UK49’s lottery draw.


You can find a casino in each metropolitan region in South Africa, thanks to the rapid growth of these establishments. Some of the most prominent casinos in South Africa are Tusk Rio Casino Resort and Tsogo Sun Montecasino.

Horse race betting

For very many years, this was the only legal form of gambling in South Africa up until the passing of the National Gambling Act in 1996. This betting faces challenges when it comes to attracting new players based on its complexity, and as such, it is hard for it to compete with the other forms of betting such as casinos.

Online gambling in South Africa

Licensed gambling sites

Each province in the country has a gambling board which is in charge of issuing of online betting licenses. South African residents are free to use these sites to place their wagers. Having these boards in place enhances revenue collection. If you put a bet on a horse race and you win, 6% of your winnings will undergo deduction for tax purposes. The level of taxation is dependent on the wager placed and on which game.

Online gaming regulations

The National Gambling Act established in the year 2004 restricted the provision of interactive gambling services as well as taking part in Internet games. This rule applied to online operators who held permits in any jurisdiction. The National Gambling Amendment Act's proposal in the year 2008 was a means of legalizing such services.

However, this Act faced a lot of opposition, and this is why it has not come into effect yet.

The gambling sector in South Africa has undergone numerous changes which have seen the industry grow to be one of the most significant revenue contributors in the country.