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South African Law and Online Gambling

As far as the legal status of online gambling is concerned in South Africa, things are as clear as possible. A ruling passed towards the end of 2011 makes it clear that online casino operators cannot accept wagers from within South Africa, and they are forbidden to even advertise their services to SA-based players.

Although some operators initially fought the decision, the Supreme Court settled the matter once and for all. Piggs Peak Casino of Swaziland was at the forefront of the legal battle against the above said decision.

Legal representatives of the operation had filed an appeal against a North Gauteng High Court ruling which essentially made online gambling illegal. The aim of the said appeal was to have Piggs Peak’s operations declared legal in South Africa. The initiative failed badly though, and the online casino operator was forced to cease its operations in South Africa and – as a direct result of the ruling – to lay off some of its employees.

Blocking South African players is easy. Geo-location software can easily pinpoint the more or less exact location of a player trying to access an online casino. With all South African IPs blocked, those who try to access such online gambling operators from within SA are automatically rejected. Instead of being allowed onto the main site, such players get a notice which makes it clear to them why they are blocked and exactly where the restrictions apply.

Piggs Peak customers get such a notice as do those players who are trying to access African Palace Casino.

The only problem is – from a legal perspective - that there are still scores of online gambling portals out there which advertise links to various international online casino operators and are addressed specifically to a South African audience.

There is no denial that in South Africa, gambling is a major industry. The government has earned more than R1.6 billion in taxes in the 2010 fiscal year alone off gambling. Online gambling is much less significant volume-wise right now, but there are few doubts the government is losing tax revenue on these online games even as you’re reading this.

Besides the above said online portals which facilitate access for South African players to various international operations, there are standalone casino operations seemingly dedicated to the South African market, and still other operations which accept wagers in local currency.

The fact that the South African Parliament passed legislation regarding the legalization of online gambling in 2007 turns the legal situation into a murky one according to some experts, but the bottom line is that no licenses based on the said 2007 legislation were ever issued.

Sites which are currently flouting the law, are unlikely to be considered when and if legalization occurs and licenses are awarded. Although currently there is no law in place that would officially stop illegally operating companies from obtaining a license in the future, those convicted during the 10 years leading up to legalization won’t even be considered for a license.

According to the Gauteng Gambling Board, players who are found to have gambled illegally may have to forfeit their winnings to the state.


NB SA Residents please read our Disclaimer before downloading any online casino.

Last Updated 19 June 2016
South African Law and Online Casinos