South Africa has seen its share of political turmoil over the last 30 years, and while the country has come so far in so many ways, its stance on online gambling continues to be confusing. This is a country that loves to gamble, and as you will see, it is a part of the culture. Some of the best online casino software has come out of the country, and yet when it came time to do anything about regulating the industry for its citizens, the government seemed not to be interested in getting into the debate. This is an ongoing discussion, so we’ll bring you up to speed on this page and will continue to update it as information becomes available.
Gambling Regulations in South Africa
Gambling has been around in South Africa for ages and starting with the first piece of legislation in 1965 to regulate the horse racing industry, it has continued to have the support of the government along the way. However, that Gambling Act considered all other forms of gambling to be illegal. This didn’t stop a gaming-hungry population from demanding places to bet, causing hundreds of gambling locations to be opened in the country outside of the law.
With the complete overhaul of the political system in the 1990s and the introduction of a truly democratic society, there were questions about how this would affect all industries including the gambling landscape. Almost immediately after the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, new laws were passed allowing for legal land-based casino gambling in the country.
Online gambling became popular in the late 1990s, and the government looked into the idea of regulating it as well. However, it chose to go the other direction, and the Gambling Bill of 2004 banned all forms of internet gambling. It also made it clear that operating a site that accepted real-money bets from South Africans was illegal, but many of the offshore organizations considered this a bluff and kept on taking that action.
There were some discussions of lifting the ban on online gambling near the end of the decade. However, that was vetoed by the government in 2010. Regardless, there was a groundswell to continue the path to regulation, and with no one having been charged with breaking the current laws, it seemed to make sense to find a way to recoup some tax revenue from all the money being lost by South Africans on offshore sites.
AS recently as 2014, another Remote Gambling Bill has made its way into the discussion, however to date there has been no significant movement in the direction of legalized online gambling. For now, both players and operators continue to exist in the grey area, which is similar to many other countries around the world.
Online Casino Software Available to South Africans
What has been the most interesting fact about the gambling regulations in South Africa is that they had a direct impact on the industry even without prosecuting anyone for breaking the laws put in place. One of the largest and best-known online casino software companies, Microgaming, was originated in South Africa. IN light of the changes in the law, the company has had to relocate its head office and critical staff to the Isle of Man, retaining only a development arm in the country. One wonders what might have happened if the government and Microgaming could have worked together on regulations that made sense for the country.
Microgaming shutting its doors to players from South Africa was no surprise, but there have been many other large suppliers that have done the same. This means that for now, South African gamblers who want to play table games, slots or poker have far fewer choices than citizens of other countries, but they can access games from the following software companies without hindrance:
- Real Time Gaming
- Rival Gaming
While this list features some smaller companies, it still includes Playtech, who are one of the giants in the industry and who have hundreds of fantastic slots titles in its catalog of games.
Best Online Casinos for South Africans
With so many software suppliers having pulled out of the market, there are far fewer sites open to real money players from South Africa than we would like. OF course, it is still up to the individual operator how aggressive they want to be in the market. There are still some excellent software solutions available, and with that, there are many sites for our South African readers to still choose from. When we review sites, we look at the overall quality of the offering from customer service to promotions and the games offered. When all is said and done, we are happy to provide you with this list of recommended casinos for South African players. Each of these sites passes our reviewers’ requirements, and for the time being, are still accepting players from the region.