South African Gambling Law
Gambling is legal in South Africa as the government had legalized and regulated it after taking into consideration a report on gambling titled “Wiehahn Commission Report” of 1994.
The most important gambling law in South Africa is the National Gambling Act, part of which says that playing or offering any interactive game except those authorized in the Act or any other South African law is illegal. Online sports betting is 100% legal in South Africa, but residents are not permitted to place bets at international gambling firms based within South Africa.
History of Gambling in South Africa
South Africa gambling has a long and interesting history. Ever since 1673, gambling was a heavily restricted activity, and in 1965, the Gambling Act was passed to ban all types of gambling except horse betting.
However, this did not stop illegal casinos from cropping up all over the country in the late seventies. Since only the natives lived in these casino areas, most of the residents couldn’t gain access to them. As many as 2000 casinos operated illegally in places such as Transkei, Venda, Ciskei, and other places by 1995.
However, the government legalized gambling by enacting the National Gambling Act of 1996. The law prescribed uniform standards for all gambling businesses across the country. It defined various gambling terms and explained how 40 different types of licenses should be distributed among various provinces.
The National Gambling Board (NGB) was also established to supervise the newly regulated gambling industry. As a result of this law, South Africa got a national lottery game, several licensed and regulated casinos, and many other licensed gambling facilities.
The National Gambling Act of 1996 was repealed in 2004 and the National Gambling Amendment Act was enacted in 2008.
Types of Gambling in South Africa
Today, South Africa offers the following forms of gambling:
- The South African National Lottery, which was launched in 2000
- Several casinos in all metropolitan cities
- Horse betting operated by Gold Circle and Phumelela and controlled by Saftote
Online Gambling Legalization
South Africa has nine provinces, each governed by a gambling and racing board. Operators are free to offer online sports betting services provided they first obtain a license from their province board. The biggest issuer of licenses for online bookies is the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board (WCGRB), which has so far granted licenses to 32 online bookies.
Horse bettors have to pay 6 percent of their winnings as VAT, but no extra tax has been imposed on winnings from May 2012.
The following are South Africa’s online gambling laws:
National Gambling Act 2004 – It prohibits residents from taking part in as well as offering online gaming services. However, this law applies only to online poker, online casino, and online bingo gaming, and not to online horse betting and online sports betting.
National Gambling Amendment Act 2008 – This act attempted to legalize online gambling and provide for the regulation of the online gambling industry. However, it is yet to be brought into effect.
However, this does not mean that it is illegal for South Africans to play at offshore online casinos, online poker rooms, and online bingo sites. There is no law in South Africa’s law books that specifically prohibits residents from playing at online gambling sites licensed in remote gambling jurisdictions. Many of these sites accept South African players, allow them to deposit and play in Rands, and offer promotions and games that match their interests.
The National Gambling Board
Any article on South Africa’s gambling laws would be incomplete without a mention being made of the National Gambling Board (NGB).
This board, which was launched in compliance with the National Gambling Act, belongs to the Department of Trade and Industry. Its duty is to supervise the operation of all gambling businesses and make sure that they comply with the laws and adhere to the best standards of the gambling industry.
Thanks to the activities of the NGB, South Africa’s gambling industry, which had lost its reputation before the early nineties, can now be considered to be highly reputable and well-regulated. As a result of the NGB’s supervision, South Africa’s gambling industry has transformed into a prominent economic sector that adheres to national as well as global compliance standards.