South Africa Reforms Again, but Still Struggles to Adapt

Lee R. - August 4, 2018

An effective regulation model in South Africa could go a long way towards establishing an effective regulation model for more African countries.

The South African landscape looks as unstable as ever, with impending new regulation efforts offering as much controversy as closure.

New Restrictions

The next move for authorities in the region calls for a tightening of regulations which reform advocates argue will increase the growing black market in South Africa which has risen up to access overseas online gambling sites.

To this landscape comes the National Gambling Amendment Bill as proposed by minister for trade and industry Rob Davies, with proposed alterations seeking to toughen existing laws through measures such as prohibiting dog races and transferring supervision of the regulation for lotteries and relevant sports pools to a new National Lotteries Commission.

Further Tough Stances

Other toughening stances would include stricter laws for bingo and limited pay-out machines, caps on number of machines and bingo licenses; a self-regulating body for horse racing, and widespread restrictions on gambling ads.

Short History

The antiquated model of licensing in South Africa was implemented as the National Gambling Act in 1996, serving to repeal a blanket ban on gambling from 1994. 

The repeal installed a system whereby the country’s National Gambling Board took over as industry regulator overseeing nine provinces in the country authorized to license online sportsbooks and physical casinos.

The reform of 1996 paved the way for physical casinos to ramp up operations but the requirement for online sports betting operators to obtain provincial licenses proved a bulky model which stalled the process of iGaming implementation and development. 

A subsequent update amendment to legalise online gambling was rejected in 2008.

The restriction tightened in 2010 when the South African court banned and prevented overseas online casinos from serving South African gamblers, while spreading the prohibitions specifically to online gambling as well, finalizing the contemporary scenario.

Contemporary Landscape 

Today, it remains illegal for South Africans to use the online gambling platforms of unlicensed operators, with the regulatory permissions necessary from both the local provinces and the NGB.

Penalties for these violations include fines of up to £572,000 ($751,000) or prison sentences as long as ten years.


South Africa remains an attractive and desirable for major online casinos today. The most activity for legal gambling in South Africa currently comes from the national lottery, where an estimated over 80% of the population purchases tickets every week, with sport betting not far behind in second.


The new proposals should seek to find a common ground through uniform regulations for all gaming activity; until then, effective policy adaptations that have streamlined models in other jurisdictions such as Europe will be delayed.   

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