Will South Africa legalize online gambling in 2019?

Posted: 5th December 2019 08:23

South Africa is one of the biggest than most prosperous countries in Africa and a popular destination for investors. Its large and financially potent market makes it attractive to the top online sports gambling operators, who are interested in catering to local players. Unfortunately, in the absence of a legal framework that would allow international casinos, bookmakers and poker rooms to operate legally, they are reluctant to open shop. There are few reasons to be optimistic that 2019 could be the year to bring about change.

The National Gambling Act of 2004 bans gambling

2004 was an important year for the gambling industry in South Africa, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

This is when theNational Gambling Act outlawed online gambling and this piece of legislation is still in effect 15 years later. In 2008, the first amendments were made, with the goal of legalizingiGaming and even though they successfully passed, the Parliament is yet to bring concrete action. Over the next couple of years, things have moved back and forth, but no significant progress was made.

Online betting fans are more likely to get lucky over the next couple of years, as this type of gambling is not frowned upon. In fact, it is currently available in all the nine provinces and it is strictly regulated by theNational Gambling Regulator. Even though the laws governing online betting can still be improved, they allow punters to bet legally.

This has brought international bookmakers to the country, ready to tap into the immense potential of the local sports betting market.

No good news for online casino fans

Land-based gambling is quite popular nationwide and many people spend time and money at these establishments. They enjoy playing slots, table games and video pokers and are willing to travel long distances just for the opportunity. This means that there is plenty of potential for online casinos willing to accept players from South Africa. Because of the gambling ban, they can’t do so legally and local people who are hell-bent on playing, circumvent the laws at their own risk.

Meanwhile, horse racing and land-based gambling facilities attract increasingly large number of people. They generate significant profits and send a lot of money to state coffers, but these represent just a fraction of what online casinos could produce. Lawmakers continue to be reluctant when it comes to passing laws that would regulate online casino games. There is no indication that they are even working on new laws that could change the status of online gambling in South Africa in 2019 for the foreseeable future. Sadly, they seem more concerned about punishing those who find ways to circumvent the laws.