The topic of online gambling has been quite controversial in South Africa. The country has had a negative view of it for quite some time and has put multiple acts and amendments to the law in order to ensure that online casinos remain illegal. However, South Africa’s history with the online gambling industry is far more complex than that.
The national attitude toward gambling is not too positive either. Despite the fact that gambling has generated a large revenue for the country, the government seems adamant on keeping online casinos out of reach. In fact, this decision has been continuously enforced.
Attitude Toward Gambling
Gambling is not exactly generally accepted as a fun hobby. In reality, most people view it as a serious vice and it truly is quite easy to lose yourself in it, becoming a problem gambler. However, some might say that forbidding online casinos has only made things worse. According to super casino sites there are still ways to access online casinos from South Africa, so the only true consequence of this ban is a heightened risk to gamblers.
However, we must keep in mind that such an attitude is absolutely normal. It is only natural to feel like enabling gamblers nationwide is not a wise decision. After all, not all gamblers are responsible, nor do they know how to make their betting habits work in their favour in the long run.
Of course, we need to also consider the economic side of this equation. The fact of the matter is that online gambling could be quite profitable to the South African government. You may wonder, why then has the ban not been lifted – well, the answer is quite simple; despite the potential profits, the harm that could be done to people with a gambling addiction outweighs any amount of money that could be made. This decision points to a government that truly cares about the people but, at the same time, one that does not quite grasp the problematic aspects of gambling.
It is worth remarking that the government has not banned land-based casinos which means that they still enable players. Essentially, the country has condemned gambling and has started viewing it only in a negative light. The reality is that condemning gambling is like placing a ban on cigarette-smoking – people will not simply stop. The problem will simply turn from personal to legal.
The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008
In 2008, there was a possibility for the legalisation of online casinos. The National Gambling Amendment Act was, in its essence, meant to do just that and it was even signed into law. However, it was never really implemented for a number of political reasons. The final decision that was reached stated that online casinos would not be allowed to legally operate, regardless of where they were based.
This complicated the situation even more as the law clearly stated one thing but in reality, there were no actual measures taken against such illegal acts. Even now, it is possible for players from South Africa to access off-shore online casinos and use their services.
Licenses and Legality
In an attempt to sort out this legal mess, the South African government took different steps to try and regulate online gambling which was taking place nonetheless. The National Gambling Board started regulating the industry, then the Gambling Review Commission was created and despite the fact that it advised the government to fully legalise online gambling and regulate it, in 2011 things changed again.
The Supreme Court of Appeal judgment of 2011 found that it is illegal for online casino operators to offer their services to South African players. It did not matter where the online operator was based. Additionally, it was ruled illegal for players to access such websites and there were to be severe legal consequences for both parties.
The Current State of the Online Casino Industry in South Africa
Right now, it is technically illegal for online operators to accept players from South Africa. It is also illegal for players to use the services of operators who do not abide by the law. However, both things still occur. The government has not been able to tackle online gambling entirely.
It is also worth remarking that online sports betting is absolutely legal in South Africa, so this ban is specifically for online casinos and games of chance and skill. Additionally, it is illegal for such services to be advertised to South Africans altogether.
At the moment, the government has seized the illegal winnings of some players and placed them in a treasury trust account specifically for that purpose. It houses more than 3 million ZAR of online gambling winnings. The official penalties are as follows: 10 million Rand, 10 years in prison or both, for any individual or organization that facilitates online gambling.
And yet, while these severe consequences are looming over the head of every gambler, there are still plenty of online casinos that welcome players from South Africa and the market only keeps growing. The legal landscape is far too complex for such a ban to be ultimate and with no breaches. Given that there are many online operators based outside of the country, prosecuting them ranges from hard to impossible.
Given that the industry only continues to grow, despite the government’s best efforts, it is safe to assume that things will need to change. However, currently, the country continues to take more and more countermeasures and is not considering the possibility of legalising online gambling at all. Unfortunately, that is the current situation but the future seems to have a more positive outlook for online gambling in South Africa.
Header Image: Legal Gambling and The Law