Almost all major forms of gambling in South Africa including online and offline gambling activities have been heavily controlled since as far back as we can remember. In fact, one of the only real form of gambling that has never been so heavily controlled is horse racing. This strict attitude stems from the Gambling Act which took effect back in the mid-1960s. Despite these tough controls though, gambling activities in various districts such as Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda have continued to see growth and there are numerous land based gaming venues that South Africans can visit.
Just before the start of the new millennium, things changed when a new leadership in the country took over and thousands of the these venues that were estimated to exist were now permitted to offer real cash gambling services to South Africans. The necessary licenses were handed out to the owners of these establishments by the recently formed National Gambling Board and new legislation known as the National Gambling Act was passed in 2004. The next major milestone occurred in 2008 when the National Gambling Amendment Act arrived and this was put in to place to basically keep tabs on the online gambling activities in South Africa.
Despite the fact that it is actually legal to place a real cash wager at an online casino or poker room, there are no such websites that actually legally operate from within South African boarders or have obtained a South African license. Today’s best South African online poker sites and online casinos operate from offshore locations and these operators have obtained licenses to operate from various other major licensing jurisdictions around the world.
A high court ruling in Johannesburg made it illegal for non-licensed gambling portals and the financial institutions to process payments between one another on behalf of the player, which is a similar law in the US and in several other countries. While the government keeps saying that it hopes to liberalise its online gambling laws, owners of these gambling portals and the financial institutions that do get caught transferring money on behalf of the player still face a maximum R10 million fine and up to 10 years in prison. The good news though is that South African players are not actually breaking any laws when playing in a gambling portal that operates from outside of South African boarders, but the government has also stated that these operators risk being rendered ineligible for obtaining an actual license should online casino gambling eventually become legal in South Africa.