South Africa Gambling Board doubles down on gambling laws

South Africa doubles down on gambling regulations
18th Sep, 2020
Simon Colmenares Author Profile Photo Simon Colmenares

The National Gambling Board in South Africa has released a definitive statement regarding ongoing discussions about whether or not gambling is a legal practice and where does the gray area lie.

“To eliminate any uncertainty in this regard, the NGB wishes to make it emphatically clear that the answer to whether online or interactive gambling is legal in South Africa, is a simple and unequivocal NO with the exception of online sports betting,” said a commission from the NGB.

In other words, the iGaming activity is still illegal, no matter what interpretation comes, in exception to sports betting. They kept their stand when they reminded that players and operators that partake in online gambling would be committing an offence and would be due to criminal prosecution if caught, so no participation whatsoever in this practice.

The NGB uses the latest approved National Gambling Act which passed in 2004 and was published by the Gazette which made interactive gaming unlawful and made it so a person must not engage or make available interactive games, only if it has been previously authorized.

In 2008 the presidency passed a National Gambling Amendment that was supposed to lift the previous act, but it was never published in the Gazette so it could not be used as a reference for taking any decisions regarding regulations of iGaming practices

“As the Amendment Act prescribes that it will only come into effect on a future date to be released by the President, by proclamation in the Gazette, and the president has never done so, the Amendment Act thus cannot be relied upon or referenced as being the law regarding the regulation of interactive gaming or online gambling,” said the NGB

“The National Gambling Act of 2004 remains the supreme national regulatory prescript for regulating the gambling industry in the Republic of South Africa, and in terms thereof, interactive gambling, as envisaged in the Amendment Act of 2008, remains prohibited”

So far, when it comes to the gambling industry in South Africa, it can only remain land-based and with establishments that allow the display of valid gambling licenses.

The stand remains unchanged

Despite the fact that the iGaming activities have received acceptance by many jurisdictions over the course of the last decade, the South African government still considers it to be an unreliable industry that no citizen must take part in at any cost.

The confident and authoritative “NO” comes at a time when the iGaming industry has witnessed an incredible growth and development in all aspects.

Because of that, many countries who thought of the industry as fraudulent have changed their opinions and are now authorizing the use of iGaming platforms within their borders.

The South African government does not seem to think any differently about the iGaming industry, even though they specifically mention that sports betting is legal and authorized within the nation.

The fact that betting on sports events is considered legal has left many players and iGaming experts frustrated. Most of them cannot wrap their heads around the idea that the government accepts the use of a specific type of gambling activity while prohibiting the others.

Among the iGaming community in South Africa, the final decision is a more than suspicious, and they are not happy about it in any way.

The future may be kinder for the iGaming industry

As the final decision has been announced by the South African government, the players have been left with no other choice than to hope for the future to make drastic changes in the current law.

As the future unfolds, it is possible that the new heads of the South African government start to think about the iGaming industry positively that could push a change in the emphatic negative decision that has been made by the government at this moment.

In the meantime, anyone that gets caught investing on iGaming activities other than sports betting will be penalized and could be sent to jail for a brief time. However, the penalties for those that organize iGaming platforms and betting venues illegally within the country will receive the harshest sentences.

They could be sentenced to jail for more than one year with scandalous fees that most operators would claim to be unable to pay easily.

Illegal ways are the only alternative

Since the government has been clear about the iGaming industry in the country, those gambling enthusiasts that cannot abide by the laws have found the way to satisfy their desires.

That particular way is illegal gambling. As it is common to see all across the globe, most activities considered to be illegal or unauthorized have not stopped everyone from doing them.

In South Africa, more than 500,000 citizens indulge in illegal gambling activities per day. Most of them love to play slot games, live casino games and jackpot games where they can earn high sums of money quickly.

When it comes to the operators that base their services on the South African territory, most of them operate from neighboring countries, where their functions cannot be penalized in any way.

This has been the method used by the iGaming community since 2004, and it seems that it is set to keep on happening for the upcoming years, up until the South African government changes its stance on the subject.


18th Sep, 2020
Simon Colmenares