South Africa is home to 39 land-based casinos and has a thriving gambling market. It’s also one of the most strictly regulated markets on the continent.
There are different rules for online gambling and land-based gambling. There’s also a clear division between occasional gamblers from professional ones.
Despite somewhat dismaying laws concerning gambling, South Africa is still one of the largest markets for eGaming worldwide. Gambling laws can be tricky for the unadvised in South Africa. That’s why we’ve elaborated a comprehensive review on the best casinos in South Africa.
It’s much easier to find what you want when you know what you’re looking for. Before starting your search, consider what you’d expect from a great online casino. Your priorities can lead you to different places if you’re looking for the best bonuses, or for the best gaming options.
Shop for the Best
The first option you stumble upon may not be the best one available. Spend some time in research, reading reviews, visiting websites, comparing sign-up bonuses, payment methods, and providers.
See It for Yourself
Visiting online casinos is the best way to learn about bonuses and other options. Try navigating on the website, test its search engine, and read about bonus schemes. Talk to the live support, whenever there’s any available.
Some casinos offer demo games on their platforms, so players can have an idea of the real deal. Other casinos go further and offer no-deposit bonuses, which are basically free cash. Those offers are understandably much smaller than normal welcome offers, but let you have a full experience of the casino.
Diversity Is the Key
Even if you already have a favourite casino, give the other ones a chance. Some casinos are better for certain kinds of games, while others have better payment methods, etc. Signing up to multiple casinos allows you to enjoy the best of each.
Mind Your Wallet
Regardless of your choice, an efficient banking system should be among your top priorities. It means choosing a casino with varied banking methods, fast withdrawals, and preferably, no fees.
Best 3 Casinos in South Africa Reviewed
There are only too many online casinos out there, but not all of them deserve your attention. Check our short review on the best online casinos for South Africans at the moment.
Casino.com is another successful platform managed by Mansion Online Casino Limited, launched in 2007. It’s licensed by the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner, UK Gambling Commission, and an eCOGRA certificate. These credentials are enough to put Casino.com’s trustworthiness beyond any doubt.
Casino.com is one of the most well-know online casinos in South Africa.
Slots make the largest part of the list, with 1,038 titles. This casino offers over 1,400 games, including a plethora of blackjack rooms (41 rooms), and all other casino classics. This casino promotes regular tournaments for blackjack and slots. Poker, baccarat, and roulette weren’t left behind either, and there’s a decent variety of each to choose from.
Additionally, it has a partnership with IBAS (Independent Betting Adjudication Service). IBAS provides unbiased solutions for disputes between casinos and gamblers. The whole casino is protected by an SSL encryption system, which means it’s completely safe from any kind of cyber-attack.
It supports 13 payment methods, including MuchBetter, Citadel, and Boku. E-wallets make the fastest withdrawals, but the waiting time isn’t long for the other methods anyway: between one and three business days. Customer services are constantly at reach, via phone, live chat, and email.
Mansion Casino was established in 2003, which means it’s one of the oldest online casinos around. Yet, it hasn’t stopped in time. It holds a license from the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner, plus an eCOGRA certificate.
Mansion casino offers great variety of slots and sport betting options.
Additionally, this casino is using RSA-128 encryption, guaranteeing your safety during your gaming sessions. The RNG (Random Number Generator) system is frequently tested so that the outcome of games is always fair.
Its gaming menu offers about 800 games and more than 700 slots titles. Yet, there’s space for 40 live games powered by Playtech, including three live poker rooms, and ten live blackjack rooms. Other attractions on the live dealer section include roulette and baccarat. Mansion Casino works with nine software providers, including NetEnt, iSoftBet, and Play’n Go.
Mansion accepts a wide array of payment methods, from the most traditional ones to Bitcoins. Withdrawals via WebMoney are instant, but it can take 24 hours for e-wallets. The remaining methods must wait between one and five business days for the payout.
Live support is available by phone and chat, and there’s also an email. It supports 13 languages, including English, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese. This casino is completely mobile-friendly, and even offers exclusive bonuses to promote mobile gambling.
Genesis Online Casino was launched in 2018, but the company that operates it is much older. The Genesis Limited Group has been in the casino market since 1911. With its eye-catching space theme, this casino has over 1,300 games and over 100 slots. There are 11 providers, including iSoftBet and NetEnt.
Genesis Casino welcomes South African players with R15k + 300 FS in bonus.
Genesis Casino holds some of the best licences and certificates in the market: Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and eCOGRA. While MGA is one of the most demanding jurisdictions for online casinos, the eCOGRA guarantees Fairplay practises. It goes to say that this casino is absolutely trustworthy.
The banking department is quite efficient, processing deposits and withdrawals quickly and free of charge for most options. Genesis Casino offers 14 banking options, comprising the major debit and credit cards, e-wallets, and SwiffyEft.
There are five options for instant withdrawals: Zimpler, iDeal, Euteller, Entercash, and Boku. Other e-wallets take up to 24 hours, while credit and debit cards can take up to five days.
The platform is available in six languages: English, Spanish, German, Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian. Customer services are available by phone and email. This casino doesn’t have an exclusive app, but it runs perfectly on any browser, on any mobile device.
Online casinos are prohibited in South Africa, by the National Gambling Act, which means that no online casino, local or foreign, is allowed to cater to the South African audience. Still, many offshore casinos welcome South African players, offering convenient payment methods, and above all, discretion.
We’ve reviewed three fantastic casinos for South African gamblers. Those casinos are licensed in the most demanding jurisdictions and are completely safe to play. Still, such restrictive laws aren’t really appealing to casino operators. It explains why this market is less dynamic in South Africa than in gamble-friendlier countries.
New online casinos accepting players from South Africa
Check below the games that South African gamblers have been playing the most. Some of them came from land-based casinos, but all of them are completely compatible with mobile devices. Here, you’ll find a short review of each game.
88 Fortunes – SG Gaming
Enjoy an Eastern Asian adventure full of mystery and, of course, gold. 88 Fortunes has a 5×3, 243 ways to win, and an RTP rate of 96.27%. It also has four different jackpots: Mini, Minor, Major, and Grand Jackpot. The maximum win is 500x your initial wager. Bets range between 88c and ZAR 88.
The game is full of symbols related to Chinese culture painted in gold over a red background. The soundtrack is very pleasing and really sounds like Chinese folkish tunes. Symbols include playing cards from Nine to Ace, golden coins, golden ships, a turtle, and a figurine, plus a Scatter (a gong) and a Wild (a fu-bat).
The Fu-Bat Jackpot Feature is randomly triggered when more Wilds come into play. Wilds also add coins to your Coin Pot; the more cash in the pot, the higher are the chances of triggering a progressive jackpot. There are also free spins, which four or more Scatters award. During the free spins, you can trigger the Picker feature.
Wild Panda – Aristocrat
Have you ever come across somebody who hates pandas? Probably not, we’d guess. Pandas are adorable and also make great slots games. In this game, you’ll get to join them in their natural habitat: a bamboo forest. The game runs on a 5×4 grid, has 100 paylines, and has an RTP rate of 94.36%. Lucky winners score 2,000x their initial bets. Bets range between 1c and ZAR 1.
There are seven special symbols and playing cards from Nine to Ace. The letters P, A, N, and D may appear randomly on those cards. When the word PANDA is formed on the grid, you open the Free Spins round. If you get five pandas during the free spins, your winnings are multiplied by 2,000x. Four or three pandas multiply your bet by 1,000 and 500x, respectively.
China Shores – Konami
Here’s another great option for panda lovers. China Shores, developed by one of the most traditional gaming studios, is ready to take you to China once again. This game goes on a regular 5×3 grid, with 30 paylines, an RTP rate of 96.1%, and a maximum win of 300,000x the initial bet. Bets go from 30c all the way up to ZAR 150.
Symbols include playing cards from Nine to Ace, plus five special symbols. These are the usual Ying Yang, teapot, golden tortoise, a lamp, and of course, a panda. Additionally, this game counts with Action $tacked Symbols, a feature that assigns different adjacent positions for each reel.
Free spins are triggered by the Ying Yang (scatter) symbol when they land in combinations of three or more. During this feature, you can opt out and bring your winnings with you, clicking on the Balance of Fortune. This option is only available when you still have 20 or more free spins remaining. A panda represents the Wild symbol.
Lions Share – Microgaming
This exciting Microgaming title has the African Savannah as a background for Lions Share. The graphics look somehow like the old arcade games, and the gameplay is simple enough for beginners to enjoy. The game has a classic 3×3 grid with only one payline, an RTP of 95.05%, and a top prize of 8,000x. Bets range between 25c and ZAR 5
The simple gameplay is also reflected in the number of symbols available. There are only cherries, bar signs of three different sizes, and a lion’s head, which is a special symbol. A combination of lions’ heads awards jackpots of 2,000x, 4,000x, and 8,000. This game can be considered a high volatility title and favors the bold in its gameplay. The higher the bets, the higher are the winning chances.
Starburst – NetEnt
This timeless classic by NetEnt keeps making new fans around the world since 2012. It’s an outer space-themed game, with incredibly colourful graphics and pleasing sound effects. The game runs on a standard 5×3 grid, ten paylines, and an RTP rate of 96.09%. Bets range between 10c and ZAR 100. The best combination awards 500x the original stake.
This game has a sort of Bejewelled feel to it, as almost all the symbols are gems, spinning on a deep-blue background. The exceptions are the special Bar Sphere and 7 Sphere symbols. NetEnt kept things simple for this title and there’s only one special feature available awards free spins and re-spins. Last year, NetEnt released a revamped version of this game, Starburst XXXtreme, where players can win up to 200,000x.
Land-based casinos have already been allowed in South Africa for more than 50 years. During this time, South Africans developed a taste for the casino classics. Check below for a short description of the most played casino games in the country.
Blackjack: South Africans love blackjack, and it’s definitely one of the favourite options for casino-goers. It’s also known as 21 or Vingt-Un.
Poker: Poker is a mandatory game in any casino, land-based or otherwise. This game is also immensely popular in South Africa. Texas Hold’em and Omaha are still the most played versions of this game, but there are many others.
Roulette: No other game is more associated with casinos than roulette. It’s been there since Renaissance times, and South Africans love every variation of it.
Baccarat: Baccarat is another French card game that can’t go missing in any casino.
Keno: Keno is a Chinese game that works very similarly to bingo. There are tickets with numbers on them, from 1 to 80.
Video Poker: Video poker games are widely popular among casino-goers. It’s based on Draw Poker, using five cards. There are many different kinds of video poker, like Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker.
Best live dealer casinos accepting players from South Africa:
South African Sports Betting Sites
Online sports betting is an exception to the prohibition on online gambling. However, online sportsbooks must be licensed by the National Gaming Board. There are over 30 online sportsbooks operating legally in the country, offering an incredible variety of betting lines.
There are no restrictions on what kind of betting lines or sports should be available. So, punters can enjoy a quite decent variety of options here. The most popular sports for betting are football, followed by table tennis, tennis, rugby, and cricket.
These sportsbooks are also allowed to provide eSports betting. It’s great news for those craving a game during the off-season. Sports betting makes 24% of the country’s annual gambling revenue.
The sports betting market enjoys a much more favourable situation in terms of legislation. By consequence, it’s also a much more developed one. Many of them have dedicated apps for mobile devices, although all of them are mobile-friendly.
Here are some completely licensed sports betting sites for a safe betting experience:
Boku is one of the most famous mobile payment methods worldwide, and it’s accepted by over 50 countries. It’s an increasingly popular payment method for online casinos due to its convenience. Boku allows players to top their bankrolls and pay for them on their next phone bills.
Players love it because they can start playing without cash. Deposits with Boku have typically low limits, which is perfect for occasional gamblers. Naturally, it can’t be used as a withdrawal method.
PayFast is a South African online payment provider established in Cape Town in 2007. It helps online retailers and consumers have a safer shopping experience. There’s a variety of payment methods that can be used via PayFast, like Mastercard, Bitcoin, Mobicred, and more.
PayFast processes payments instantly, differing from traditional e-wallets in that sense. It’s a perfect payment method for swift deposits and withdrawals for online gamblers. Operations aren’t free, though. There aren’t monthly fees, but every successful transaction pays a small fee.
Cryptos are a trendy payment method for online transactions in South Africa. Cryptos are legal but are regulated by the government. A new series of restrictions were imposed by the government last year to prevent financial crimes.
Gambling with cryptos isn’t prohibited, as long as it’s done in one of the licensed land-based gambling venues across the country. Online gambling is completely banned, making it illegal to gamble with cryptos.
Skrill is a leading e-wallet in the global market. It operates with 35 currencies in dozens of countries. It’s one of the most used methods to send money abroad or make deposits on offshore banks.
E-wallets are very popular among online gamblers because they typically allow fast and free operations. Through Skrill, it’s also possible to move cash into crypto accounts. This company has been in operation for 20 years already.
Visa and Mastercard are the most used credit and debit cards worldwide, hands down. It’s accepted in more than 200 countries, and it would be easier to list the places that don’t accept them than those that do.
Last year, Visa announced a partnership with Crypto.com to create a debit card for crypto accounts. Mastercard has partnered with Bitkub, CoinJar, to create prepaid, debit, and credit cards for cryptos.
Gambling Regulator in South Africa
The National Gaming Board is responsible for regulating and overseeing all gambling activities in the country. The National Gambling Board was established by the National Gambling Act in 2004 and worked along with all Provincial Gaming Boards.
The NGB also appoints authorised bookmakers for online betting and makes a strong case against online gambling on their page. There, it says that other forms of online gambling are illegal, and the bank could confiscate winnings made from such activity.
Although gambling follows national rules, provinces have some independence to adjust taxes and minor issues. Before creating the National Gaming Board, the country was riddled with illegal casinos, land-based or otherwise.
The National Gaming Act was a crucial step to give more transparency to this sector, but it has left aside large portions of the gambling activity, chiefly online casinos. An amendment to the Act, from 2008, promised to liberalise this niche but never came to force.
Although the NGB is responsible for licensing land-based casinos on a national level, prospect companies must apply first in the Provincial Gambling Board whenever it releases a Request for Application.
South Africa-Specific Gambling Restrictions
South Africa is a strictly regulated market when it comes to gambling. Online casinos are prohibited, regardless of if it’s a national or a foreign one. Land-based casinos, sportsbooks, and bingos can operate, although also following several restrictions.
Only 41 casino licences can be granted in the country, and those licences are proportionally divided among the nine provinces. While some provinces can grant up to five licences, others can grant only three.
Companies must apply not only for new licences but also for acquiring existing ones from third parties too. In this case, such companies need to apply for transferring the licence.
These licences also pertain to the number of gaming positions a casino can have.
If a casino wants to expand its game base, it should apply for the related gaming board and pay an additional fee. South African casinos have between 200 and 2,000 slot machines; each one of them must be registered at the Central Electronic Monitoring System. Rules for table games must also be pre-approved by the adequate board.
It’s also possible to find slot machines in places that aren’t gambling venues. These machines are called LPMs or Limited payout machines.
They can be found in clubs, pubs, and sports venues. Such locations must also apply for a “site operator” license.
Are Online Casinos Legal in South Africa?
Online casinos are currently illegal in the country, although such restrictions don’t apply to sports betting. There’s an amendment to the National Gambling Act from 2008, waiting to come into force. Nevertheless, the amendment was fought against by representatives of land-based casinos and also government agencies fearing financial crimes.
Gambling has been part of South African society since at least the 17th century, although it has never been seen fondly by it. Land-based casinos and sportsbooks can operate in the country if aptly licensed. Online gambling is not only illegal but also heavily penalised if caught.
Companies and individuals caught facilitating online gambling are in for a hefty penalty: ZAR 10 million. Additionally, it could result in up to ten years in jail and lose all gambling winnings. Yet, this law has no power to punish offshore online casinos.
Such a dire scenario for online casinos and gamblers is likely to change in the upcoming years. The amendment from 2008, allowing online gambling, hasn’t yet lost its legal power. The government is already raising taxes on land-based casinos, and the prospect of income from regulated online casinos may be enough incentive to legalise them too.
Gambling Taxes in South Africa
Gambling winnings are liable to taxation, depending on how important these winnings are for your income. If you’re an occasional player with other sources of income, your gambling winnings are taxed, although they should still be declared.
For professional players, gambling is the only source of income, and they should pay taxes normally. On the bright side, professional players can also claim losses in the same way. Lottery prizes are exempt from taxation, but horse betting winnings pay 6% on the source to pay for VAT.
Such a division is rooted in two pieces of law: Graham v Greene (1925) and Morrison v CIR (2009). In the first case, it was decided that gambling winnings shouldn’t be equated to the bookmakers’ profit for the sake of taxation. Occasional gamblers and bettors haven’t paid taxes on their winnings ever since.
The second case decided that if a person lives solely from one’s gambling winnings, it should be considered a profit-making scheme, thus being liable to taxation. Winnings made on foreign, unlicensed online casinos and sportsbooks must pay capital gains taxes, which is 18%.
History of Gambling in South Africa
Early gambling accounts on South African soil date back to the 17th century. The activity has oscillated between legality and illegality quite often in the past century. Gambling was prohibited in 1965, with the Gambling Act. Horse betting was the only gambling activity spared by the ban.
Fifteen years later, land-based casinos were already crawling back into society, but this time, restricted to a few bantustans, like Ciskei, Transkei, Venda, and Bophuthatswana. The prohibition, as per usual, created a thriving illegal market. Official estimates talk about 2,000 illegal casinos operating in the country between 1994 and 1995.
In 1996, casinos were back to legality, thanks to the National Gambling Act, which has licensed casinos and established a lottery. The National Gambling Act was updated in 2004, banning online gambling. Only registered bookmakers can operate sportsbooks, while online casinos remain prohibited.
In 2008, the National Gambling Amendment Act tried to legalise online gambling. However, due to pressures from licensed land-based casinos and financial authorities, the law never came into force. Many offshore casinos are welcoming South African players and operating with ZAR.
However, another round of prohibitions came in 2010, banning offshore casinos. Land-based casinos are still legal in the country, while online gamblers must resort to VPNs to get around restrictions and enjoy a gaming session.
Land-Based Gambling in South Africa
Land-based casinos have been allowed in the country since the late 70s, and there are 39 of them across the country. The national legislation currently limits the number of licenses to 41. These licenses are distributed among the nine provinces, as follows below.
Five licenses available (four already granted)
Five licenses (already granted)
Five licenses (four already granted)
Five licenses (four already granted)
Three licenses (already granted)
Three licenses (already granted)
Five licenses (already granted)
Seven licences (already granted)
Four licenses (already granted)
Land-based gambling enjoys much more favourable legislation than its online version does.
The same authorisation enjoyed by land-based casinos also extends to bingo terminals, lottery and sports betting. Licenses are conceded by provinces, following nationwide legislation.
Such licenses are only available to companies and can’t be conceded to individuals. The same goes for third parties, like testing agencies and totalisator operators. There are no limits for the number of games, slots machines, bets, or payouts.
Still, all slot machines must have a Return to Player (RTP) rate of at least 80%. Rules for table games need a pre-approval from the local regulators.
South Africa Gambling Addictions Help
Gamblers with addiction problems can seek help in the NRGP (National Responsible Gaming Programme), organised by the South African Responsible Gaming Foundation (SARGF). The Foundation was established in 2000, born from a public-private partnership between the gambling industry and gambling regulators.
SARGF must report its activities and statistics to local and national authorities, despite its independent status. SARGF is partially funded by donations from the gambling industry, and the minimum contribution is 0.1% of the industry’s revenue in that year.
Gamblers can also file for self-exclusion on NGB’s website.
Did You Know?
Despite prohibitions, South Africa remains one of the biggest markets for eGaming worldwide. In fact, it’s the second-largest market in the continent for this niche. Gambling revenue is also a sizable portion of the country’s GDP.
Data from 2020 suggests that about 10% of South Africans gamble regularly, spending approximately USD 13 billion per year. Slots and table games make about 70% of the country’s annual gambling revenue.
Online gambling is only allowed on licensed sportsbooks, lotteries, and bingos. Online casinos remain banned.
There are 39 land-based casinos in South Africa, from 41 licences the government can concede.
Gambling is taxed in South Africa only when it’s one’s only source of income, meaning that this person is a professional gambler. Occasional gamblers have other sources of income and don’t pay any taxes on their winnings, but such winnings must still be reported on the tax return.
The South African government empowered the National Gambling Board with the National Gambling Act in 2004.
Approximately one in ten adults of South Africans gamble frequently.
South African laws can be confusing for fresher gamblers, as there are so many restrictive and seemingly contradictory rules. There are land-based casinos in every province for those who wish to avoid headaches in their gambling sessions.
Additionally, licensed sportsbooks operate in land-based venues and appointed online platforms. It’s also possible to play the lotto online, and indeed, the lotto is the most popular online gambling option, followed by horse racing.
Online casinos remain illegal in the country, and those in breach of this law risk being fined and even jailed. However, such stark rules mainly apply to gambling operators, not gamblers. Yet, the NGB alerts on its website for confiscating gambling winnings coming from such sources.
That’s why many South Africans resort to VPNs and digital to bypass this prohibition. Several trustworthy offshore online casinos accept South African gamblers and even operate with Rands.
The amendment from 2008 that could untie the Gordian knot of South African gambling rules remains dormant. Yet, legislators, investors, and players expect this situation to change in the future, with the prospects of tax income that would result from the regulation of this market.
We always recommend players to choose trustworthy casinos, well-rounded by licences, certificates, and high-end security. Above all, play responsibly and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you feel you’re conceding to compulsive behaviour.