Historical and Legal Aspects of South African Online Gambling

Is it legal to gamble online in South Africa? Does this country’s government allow gambling, and what was the situation like in the past? In this article, we’ll get to know all details regarding the historical and legal aspects of SA gambling.

The experts discovered that the legal landscape changed for the better over time. Below we will discuss when it all started and what’s the situation with modern gambling platforms these days.

History of SA Gambling

Are you eager to start playing casino games from the comfort of your home? If you are looking for a promising platform that recently entered the market, check out the fresh ZAR online casino review 2020. Before doing that, let’s get to know the history of SA gambling.

The Dutch settlers forbade gambling in 1673, but as the South African economy progressed, more players became interested in various betting forms. In 1965, the conservative government made it clear that all betting is banned. According to the Gambling Act adopted then, you could only bet on horse racing since the government believed it was a sport.

During the next several decades, street gangs took over managing illegal betting and gambling properties. The research discovered that there were more than 2,000 illegal gaming facilities during the 1990s. Fortunately, the new democratic government recognized the opportunity and legalized gambling.

The National Gambling Act was officially implemented in 1996. It allowed lotteries and casinos, and players throughout the country could legally play in land-based facilities. It didn’t take long for the users to adopt playing online, too.

Overview of the 1st SA Online Casino

It all started in the 1990s when the internet became accessible to the entire world. That’s when Cryptologic and Microgaming decided to launch the first online casinos. Thanks to these industry pioneers, players could enjoy their favorite games online since 1995. South Africa kept up with that trend, and their platforms were available here

The Gaming Club launched in 1995, and Intercasino followed a year later. We could describe the game selection as modest. The graphics weren’t brilliant, and players could only enjoy 20-30 games, but it was obvious that this industry has a bright future.

Legal Aspects of SA Online Gambling

What is the current situation regarding online gambling in South Africa? That’s a good question because the laws are a bit confusing. If you take a look at the currently active Gambling Act, you can interpret it differently.

The right interpretation seems to be that all platforms that acquire a license from relevant state authorities can provide services to SA players. It’s worth noting that operators based abroad also offer their games to users from South Africa. That’s why players can choose between numerous providers and enjoy playing legally.

Since there is confusion regarding the law, we expect the SA authorities to change it in the coming years. It’s in the government’s interest to regulate this industry to increase the tax revenue. That is why it’s only a matter of time when the country will adopt a new Gambling Act or other regulations focused on online gambling.

The Current State of Modern SA Online Casinos

The coronavirus pandemic caused a lot of problems for land-based gaming facilities throughout the world. According to reports, even Las Vegas Sands plans on selling its casinos to recover from the pandemic’s negative effects on its business.

However, online casinos are among those industries that profited during the virus outbreak. It’s only understandable because you can stay at home and visit internet gambling websites. That is a safer option, and players find it to be more entertaining.

Online gaming sites leverage technology to recreate the experience of visiting a land-based facility. Most platforms available offer live gaming options with human dealers. They broadcast the sessions live from an actual casino or professional studio. The dealers dress elegantly and guide you through the process and participate in sessions if necessary.

Here are some games to try on online platforms:

  • Slots – pick your genre and try to win millions at progressive jackpot slots.
  • Roulette – can you guess the pocket where the ball will land?
  • Blackjack – the newbies’ favorite card game because it only takes seconds to learn.
  • Keno – these games are often available on SA gaming websites.
  • Other games – the list includes scratch cards, baccarat, craps, poker, etc.

Players can even try 3D and VR games. If you have at home a VR headset, you can put it on and feel like you entered a land-based casino. You can walk between tables, interact with the chips, and even communicate with other players. Although this technology is still developing, it might render gaming facilities redundant in the future.


The legal landscape for gambling in South Africa started changing in the 1990s. The democratic government legalized gaming, and that paved the way for land-based and online casinos. Today, there are no exact statistics, but thousands of South African players enjoy playing on websites based abroad. That allows them to pick between various game genres and gaming options.

We expect the government to adjust the Gambling Act in the coming years. It seems that they could clarify the confusion that currently exists regarding online gaming. That could increase their revenue but also secure a valid legal framework for internet gambling providers and players.

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