Betting is a very popular form of entertainment in South Africa and many enjoy betting money on their favorite sports teams, players and major events. While playing the lottery is quite popular in the country, many also enjoy other types of gambling. This is why this sector has constantly been changing throughout the years and several laws were implemented as a way of legalizing betting in South Africa.
Currently, both land-based and online betting is legal in South Africa but operators who wish to offer online betting must obtain a license by one of the nine authorities that regulate online gambling in South Africa.
While casino games are more popular among South Africans, sports betting and horse racing are also appreciated by many punters in the country. The fact that they can also bet in the comfort of their homes or even via their phone on the go, further contributes to the popularity of betting in the country.
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Legalities of Online Sports Betting in South Africa
Historical Betting Overview
Nowadays, the gambling scene in South Africa is definitely much different compared to back in the days. Until 1996, all forms of gambling were completely banned in South Africa. The one exception was horse racing as this was considered a sport where the outcome of a race depends both on luck and skills.
Before the changes in the gambling law were introduced, the territories of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei were independent of South Africa and had different rules and regulations concerning gambling activities. These independent homelands, also collectively known as TBVC, legalized gambling which was the reason for a number of land-based casinos operating on these independent territories.
However, after some changes in the South African legislation in 1994, Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei were yet again part of South Africa. This has led to an ambiguous gambling situation in the country as gambling was very much so, still illegal in South Africa but the land-based casinos in the former independent territories were still licensed and were operating.
Two years after the democratization of the country and the TBVC territories were yet again considered a part of South Africa, the new National Gambling Act of 1996 was implemented. It legalized land-based and online forms of betting, with online operators having the chance to apply for betting licenses. The national lottery was also introduced to the public after the new gambling law came into effect in 1996 and the overall gambling sector in South Africa was completely reformed.
Odds Format in South Africa
There are three types of odds formats that are commonly seen at virtual sportsbooks. You can see odds represented in decimal, fractional or American format. Each of the formats is typical for a certain group of punters but many online sportsbooks allow their members to choose between at least two types of formats.
As the name suggests, American odds are most commonly used by US bettors and they are often seen at websites that cater to bettors from the states. Fractional odds are usually preferred by UK and Irish punters but can be seen at many online sportsbooks as one of the supported formats.
Decimal odds are also called European odds and are typically used by most European punters. They are also the format that South African punters prefer, as they can often be used at online sportsbooks licensed in the country. You can take for example odds of 1.50 which will express your expected profit in a decimal format. These odds indicated that betting a single unit will earn a successful bet a win of 0.50 units, making the total profit 1.50 units.
South Africa Betting Laws and Legislation
The pivotal point for gambling in South Africa was the Gambling Act which was passed in 1996. It legalized both land-based and online gambling in the country and operators were allowed to apply for licenses that allow them to offer online betting to South African citizens.
With the new law, the National Gambling Board was also created as the jurisdiction which regulates the gambling sector in all nine territories of South Africa. Each of these nine territories has its own regulators that are responsible for issuing licenses to betting operators and making sure they are conducting fair online betting.
The gambling scene in South Africa continued changing with the years as there were some changes to the law. In 2004, the new National Gambling Act proclaimed all interactive gaming for illegal and both offering and participating in online gaming is considered breaking the law. In addition to that, in 2010, there were some amendments to the Gambling Act which also announced that interactive gaming on offshore sites is also illegal. This ban applies to the casino, bingo and poker websites but sports betting and horse races are excluded from the ban. This means that as long as a sportsbook operator holds a license issued by one of the nine provinces in South Africa, it can offer online betting to residents of the country.
South Africa Betting Restrictions
While the Gambling Act of 1996 legalized gambling and allowed operators to apply for licenses, there were certain changes to the law introduced with the Gambling Act of 2004. It banned all forms of interactive gaming which include casino, bingo and poker sites. In 2010, this ban also added to the list of illegal gaming offshore operators. Thankfully, this ban did not apply to sports betting and horse racing.
Currently, South African punters have no issue betting online, as long as the operator has obtained a valid betting license from one of the nine provinces in the country. While other countries might have harsh punishments for operators that conduct illegal betting, according to the Gambling Act, both operators, and bettors who participate in illegal online betting can be fined or even imprisoned.
In addition to the ban of participating and providing illegal online gaming and betting, the Gambling Act also forbids commercializing of online gambling by mass media outlets. Since the law also forbids any underage gambling, there is an age minimum for bettors who wish to join online sportsbooks. The legal age that bettors must be in order to register in a virtual sportsbook is 18 years of age or older. While recreational bettors are not obliged to pay any taxes, those who enjoy betting on horse races will have to pay a tax of 6% in their winnings.
Online Betting Regulatory Body in South Africa
The National Gambling Board is responsible for regulating gambling activities in all nine provinces of South Africa. Each of these nine territories has its own regulatory bodies that can issue online betting licenses to operators that meet all license requirements. A total of 40 betting licenses can be issued by all nine provinces but it is the National Gambling Board that determines how many licenses each territory can provide to betting operators.
At the moment, the biggest license issuing territory is WCGRB which is the abbreviation for Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board. The other eight licensing authorities include the gambling and racing boards of Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West.
It should be noted that South African bettors can bet on sports and horse races online, only if the sportsbook is licensed by any of the aforementioned nine authorities. It is not that easy to obtain an online betting license by one of South Africa’s nine jurisdictions as there are several conditions that each operator must meet. This, however, ensures that websites licensed in South Africa can be trusted as they conduct fair and safe online betting.
South Africa Online Betting Bonuses
When betting online, many South African punters will be pleased to know that they will be able to claim various generous promotions. Whether they are new members of a sportsbook or they bet regularly on the site, most virtual bookies offer their members different types of incentives.
Often, online sportsbooks offer their new patrons Welcome Bonuses which typically match the first deposits of newcomers. This allows bettors to increase their bets and hopefully enjoy better wins. It is important to check the terms and conditions that apply to a Welcome Bonus as it sometimes may request opt-in or entering a promo code when punters make their first deposit. There is also a set minimum for the deposit which will make bettors eligible to receive a Welcome Bonus.
Some betting sites might offer cashbacks on your weekly or monthly losses. Typically such promotion applies to a certain type of bets such as accumulators. In such cases, there is a minimum number for the legs of the accumulator bet and the sum you must wager. Such offers also require punters to make bets on odds of specific minimum or higher. When eligible to receive the cashback, punters may enjoy this type of incentive in the form of free bets.
It is always worth checking the promotions of sportsbooks as they often offer generous bonuses to their members. Keep in mind that most incentives come with wagering requirements that must be met before withdrawal. This means that the bonus punters receive must be wagered several times and there is usually a minimum for odds that will count towards the wagering of the bonus amount.
Mobile Betting in South Africa
Not only is online betting conveniently available to South African residents but they can also bet on sports and horse races on the go. As most virtual sportsbooks that cater to South African punters are fully compatible with mobile devices, one can easily enjoy their betting time on the move.
Many betting sites are optimized to run on most Android and iOS devices and require no installation of any apps. As long as South African bettors have a stable Internet connection, they will be able to load the sportsbook of their choice via the browser app of their device.
Some interactive bookies may also offer dedicated mobile apps that can be installed on iOS and Android devices. Often these apps can be downloaded from the website of the sportsbook or they can be found at the Apple App Store.
Whether bettors choose a sportsbook app or prefer using its browser-based mobile version, they should experience a smooth and fun betting experience on the go. Punters who bet while they are out and about will have the same betting options as they do on web-based sportsbooks. Personalizing one’s bet slip is simple as it usually takes one tap on your preferred bet to add it to the bet slip and continue with making your stake.
Those who bet on the go will also be able to handle their deposits and withdrawals. Payments can be easily carried through your mobile device and you can still be sure that they will be processed securely. What is more, bettors can make use of the different promotions offered by sportsbooks and enjoy a more lucrative betting time even when they bet on the go.
Popular Betting Banking Methods in South Africa
When they bet online, South African punters can rely on several convenient and secure payment options. As a way to provide smooth and easy payments, many virtual sportsbooks support the ZAR currency. This allows South African bettors to easily handle their payments without having to worry about conversion fees.
You will see that most virtual bookmakers accept payments via credit and debit cards by Visa and Mastercard. These are two of the most popular card-issuing companies and they always ensure safe payments as they utilize strict security measures. Using a credit or debit card for funding your betting account will allow you to make instant and hassle-free deposits. You can also resort to this method for withdrawing your winnings but it may take a few days before your money is transferred to your card.
While it is easy to use credit/debit cards at betting sites, you will have to provide your card details when initiating a payment. Many bettors may find this inconvenient which is why they can resort to other options. A very convenient way to handle your payments will be utilizing an e-wallet. South African bettors can often resort to using e-wallets by Skrill, Neteller or ecoPayz which will allow punters to instantly top up their accounts, without providing any sensitive information. Many sportsbooks will allow punters to cash out their winnings via e-wallets which can be very convenient as the process takes less time compared to some other payment methods.
Among other payment solutions, South African bettors can also often resort to the service of EasyEFT. This is a payment service that specifically caters to residents of South Africa and acts as a mediator between one’s bank account and online sportsbook of choice. This method allows instant deposits which are also extremely safe. EasyEFT can also be utilized as a withdrawal option which can be very convenient for many South African virtual bettors.
South Africa Betting Sites FAQ
Is Online Gambling Legal in South Africa?
According to the National Gambling Act, participating or offering online gaming services is illegal in South Africa. This includes casino, bingo and poker sites. However, online betting is legal as long as the sportsbook operator holds a valid license issued by one of the nine licensing authorities in South Africa.
What is the Legal Age to Bet Online in South Africa?
All individuals who are at least 18 years of age will be allowed to join a virtual sportsbook and make bets on sporting events and horse races. Those who are underage will not be allowed to participate in any form of online betting.
Are There Any Taxes on Winnings from Online Betting?
While those who are considered recreational bettors and enjoy making bets on sporting events will not be required to pay any taxes, the case with horse racing bettors is different. Punters who make bets on horse races must pay a 6% tax on all of their winnings.
Can South African Bettors Make Bet at Foreign Sportsbooks?
As long as a betting operator holds a valid license by one of the nine gambling and racing boards in South Africa, it can legally offer online betting to South African bettors. This also includes offshore sportsbooks.
Are There Any Consequences for Betting on Unlicensed Website?
Yes. According to the National Gambling Act 2004, both operators and punters who participate in any form of illegal betting can be fined and even imprisoned. This is why bettors must always check the license of a virtual bookmaker and join only if it is properly licensed by the authorities in South Africa.