Things I Really Never Knew About Gambling in SA

How much do you know about gambling or gambling laws in South Africa? Not being a huge gambler myself, I’ve not spend much time thinking about it! But, with the inception of Bitcoin gambling, I went down a Saturday night “internet rabbit hole” and learnt a whole lot about gambling in South Africa!

Things that I’d really never thought about or knew (like Sun City was in Bophuthatswana during Apartheid and had its own laws with  international rock stars playing concerts there all the time because Apartheid laws didn’t apply?! Yeah, I never knew that!) 

So here are 5 things that I recently learnt about gambling in South Africa.

1. Only Sports Betting is Legal in South Africa

Having British heritage, but not a family who bets often, I didn’t realise that sports betting was the only form of legal betting in South Africa! Sites like Betway present all your favourite sports games and a legal way to participate from the comfort of your home (yay! No random casinos or seedy bars with slot machines!). It’s totally legal and means you won’t have to wait for the Queen’s Plate, Durban July or Sun Met once a year!

2. The Lottery is Considered Gambling

Did you know that the lottery was considered gambling? I DIDN’T! I play the lotto probably about 2 or 3 times a year, just for fun. I had no idea that it was considered gambling!!!

81% of the same poll participants had bought a lottery ticket and thus fallen into the ‘gambling’ category.

76% of those participants had participated for the 1st time over the past year – I swear everytime another Buzzfeed lottery article comes out about someone winning the lottery we all jump on it again!

3. Gambling Was Illegal in South Africa Before 1996

Obviously I was a child in the nineties so it’s not something I’d thought about, but I had no idea that gambling had been predominantly outlawed in South Africa since 1965 and only legalised again in 1996! Again, gambling culture is huge in the UK so it’s not something I even considered being illegal.

4. 30% of South Africans Have Gambled

I know that people like to gamble in South Africa (just look at all the tiny, random towns with strict liquor licensing laws, but no issues having casinos in their towns!), but in a 2017 poll of over 4000 South Africans, by the National Gambling Board, over 30% of respondents had gambled legally or illegally. That’s definitely more than I had anticipated!

5. Online Gambling Is Illegal Because It Negatively Impacts the Economy (Fact)

This is always what I thought but the National Gambling Board has confirmed this in their report. I have mixed feelings about this. They state,

“In 2014 alone, the industry (gambling) contributed almost two billion Rand to the South African tax base. However, the size of this tax base is slowly being eroded by the growing shadow industry of online and illegal gambling, which has gained momentum in recent years.”

Now, I don’t specifically gamble (until now – when I just learnt the lottery is gambling!), but if I could gamble online then maybe I would. Making gambling online illegal doesn’t redirect me to real casinos, so the government isn’t getting my tax money anyway. 

In terms of those who DO gamble online, this redirects funds away from government, which is a bummer because there are many South Africans who need upliftment. This should probably be reassessed. So few South Africans pay tax as it is, we needs those contributions to make the country better.

What do you think?

Please let me know if you knew these 5 facts? I clearly have a lot more to learn, but I thought this was a good start…



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