How to promote betting and gambling in South Africa: a review of 3SNET

Publication date: 12 Mar 2024

Information from the ground, because right now 3SNET is in Cape Town at Sigma Africa! If you’re there, hurry over to stop by our 08BR booth as we’ve got goodies, giveaways and talks!

And what we’ve learnt right there:

  • BC Hollywoodbets, YesPlay all operate with a South African license.
  • Obtaining an offline license in any province allows you to operate online throughout South Africa!

South Africa is a country with an interesting fate, where traditionally huge potential competes with external constraints. The situation with casinos and sports betting in South Africa is similar: partly legalized gambling has already proven its benefits, the audience is ready, but the country’s authorities are not yet prepared to finally allow online gambling. Let’s figure out the specifics of GEO: South Africa and how to promote gambling and betting in the current circumstances? 

How is gambling regulated in South Africa?  

The National Gambling Act in the Republic of South Africa was passed in 2004 and was completed in 2008. 

According to this law, the following types of gambling are allowed in South Africa:  

  • all casino games (bingo, poker, roulette, baccarat, slots, etc.);
  • sports betting (including horse racing);
  • lottery.

The only type of gambling allowed to operate online in South Africa are sports betting and horse racing betting sites.

South Africa what gambling is allowed 3SNET

Interesting fact! Not only lotteries are popular in South Africa but also numbers games. However, this type of betting was declared illegal by the court in autumn 2021. 

How is online casino activity regulated in South Africa? 

Under the current Gambling Act, there is only one type of activity that is also allowed online – sports betting sites. Casinos can only operate legally offline. 

In the summer of 2010, even online gambling offered through servers located outside the country was banned by court order in South Africa. Thus, all online gambling, apart from licensed sports and horse racing betting sites, became illegal in South Africa. 

There are criminal penalties for operating and maintaining casino sites. Individuals, internet service providers and banks that process payments for online gamblers, and the media could all be prosecuted. The organization of illegal gambling in South Africa can carry a fine of R** 10 million or 10 years imprisonment (or both). 

**R, ZAR (South African Rand) is the national monetary unit of the Republic of South Africa. As of mid-June 2022, the South African rand stands at around 35.5 roubles, 0.62 US dollars or 0.6 euro per 10 ZAR.

However, there is very little information about how illegal gambling sites are controlled in South Africa, who blocks them and how, and whether the punishment system is actually in place. The lack of data in this situation indicates, most likely, that the policy against illegal gambling exists only in documents. 

Separately, it should be clarified that the legal offline segment is well developed and popular with the public. In South Africa, 38 licenses have been issued to open casinos (in total, 41 licenses can be legally issued in the country). Before Covid-19, the casino sector was the largest source of GGR, accounting for 60.5% of total GGR (across all forms of gambling). But due to the effects of the pandemic, casino GGR has fallen by 50.5%. Consequently, the taxes collected from the sector have also decreased significantly. According to officials, user interest has shifted towards the online sector.  

How is legal online gambling regulated in South Africa? 

The main regulatory body in South Africa is the National Gambling Board (NGB) of South Africa. The website https://ngb.org.za/ states that the agency oversees bingo, casinos, limited payout machines (LPM) and sports betting (including horse racing).  

Each province of South Africa has its own Gambling Board. In order to carry out gambling activities (open a land-based casino or a sports betting facility), a license is required. The validity of the license is limited to the provincial boundaries.  

  • Also, each council sets its own tax rate depending on the level of income of the gambling establishment. 

Online operation (opening a betting site) also requires a license. However, a licensed betting site is allowed to operate and provide services throughout South Africa. The Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board (WCGRB) is the most popular, here the application fee is only €750.

According to the NGB, the horse racing and sports betting sector has maintained a strong growth trend in GGR over the past two decades with an average growth of almost 20% per year. The total GGR generated in the betting sector in fiscal year 2020-2021 was ZAR 10.6 billion, up 21.1% from 2019-2021. The regulator’s website separately specifies that the betting industry was the only industry that generated positive revenue growth following the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The online sector, which has made gambling available online and over the phone, was primarily responsible for the positive momentum. 

How to attract an audience from South Africa to betting and casino sites? 

According to Slotegrator, South African players provide more than 50% of total gaming revenue on the continent.

There is no tax on winnings for players. There is one exception: if you win at the races, you will have to pay 6% of the winnings to the state.  

In June 2022, the national regulator published the following figures: about 60% of respondents had been involved in illegal forms of gambling. 

The pandemic greatly accelerated the adoption of digital technology as people were confined to their homes and had no access to more traditional leisure activities.  Statistics obtained by DataReportal shows that in 2022 more than 41 million South Africans will be able to use the Internet all the time (68.2% of the total population). 

Another study by the National Council on Problem Gambling found that almost a third (30.6%) of those surveyed had ever gambled. The most common type of gambling is lotteries, followed by casino gambling, betting, bingo and LPM. Illegal gambling also flourishes, with fafi *** being the most popular.

The gender distribution among fans of unlicensed gambling and betting in South Africa is as follows: 52.3% men and 47.7% women. Men are more likely to participate in horse or sports betting, LPMs and unlicensed gambling. Women are keener on casinos, raffles, scratch cards and bingo. 

***Read about the most popular online gambling in South Africa below. 

Important information about South Africa to promote gambling and betting

The Republic of South Africa is a country in Southern Africa with a population of over 55 million people. The country is as diverse as possible, from population to climate zones.  

  • Population: about 80% are dark-skinned, 8% are white, there are also mulattoes (about 9%) and Asians (about 3%). 
  • Religion: Christians (77%), atheists (15%), Muslims (1%).
  • Territorially the country is divided into nine provinces, each of which has local authority, but is subject to state legislation. 
  • Apart from English, ten other languages are official. Each of these languages has its own name for the country – Afrikaans, Sesotho, Tswana and others. Part of the black population calls their country Azania. The banned language of Tsotsitaal (translated as “thief’s language”, also called the Creole language of Isicamtho) is very popular amongst black youth. 
  • The official currency is the South African rand.
  • There is high unemployment (40% of the population) and a high crime rate.

 Africa, including South Africa, has the youngest population in the world. The combination of a young population and unemployment rate leads to the younger generation seeing sports betting as a way to make money and doing so on a regular basis. 

What sports are popular in South Africa? 

At the top of the list of the most popular sports in South Africa is rugby. The national rugby team has been world champions several times and has won international competitions. 

As for traditional sports, football, cricket, tennis, boxing, swimming and athletics are popular amongst South Africans. 

Among the more “exotic” sports, a variety of basketball has many fans:  

  • netball – a game exclusively for women; 
  • ringball is a basketball game with special rules.

South Africa often plays host to major international tournaments which attract huge crowds of fans:  

  • 1995 – Rugby World Cup; 
  • 1996 – African Cup of Nations (football);
  • 2010 – FIFA World Cup;
  • South African Grand Prix (since 1962 as part of Formula 1).

Local sporting events also gather crowds of competitors and fans: 

  • every year there is a bicycle race;  
  • the Comrades, the world’s biggest ultramarathon (about 90km) through KwaZulu-Natal.

Which casino games are popular among South Africans? 

Casinos in South Africa have a full range of traditional card games, but local players often play local games: 

  • klawerjas – a game with Dutch roots, where the main objective is to score the optimum number of bribes;
  • kalookie is a game to pick certain combinations;
  • thuni (thunee) – especially popular with Asians, the aim is to collect a certain number of points.

Other popular games with South African players include English game called cribbage and German game of bribes known as skat, the combination card game canasta and its variant samba, the competitive solitaire game Spite and Malice, the card-losing game shithead. 

Traffic sources for casinos and bookmakers in South Africa online

Similarweb.com service has presented data on the most visited websites by South Africans for May 2022. 

  • Among search engines, google.com and google.co.za lead, with music.youtube.com in third place. Closing the top five ikeja.co.za and tubidy.com.
  • Among social networks, Facebook.com, instagram.com and twitter.com are popular. Whatsapp and Linkedin.com were also in the top five in terms of traffic. (Facebook and Instagram are considered extremist and are banned in Russia).
  • Attendance at gambling sites in South Africa is as follows: in 1st place hollywoodbets.net, followed by betway.co.za and eshkol.io. In 4th place is itskiddoan.club and in fifth place is gogoanime.fi.
  • Among casino sites, europacasino.com, hczog.com, upgulpinon.com, springbokcasino.co.za and yebocasino.co.za are the most visited.
  • For sports betting, South Africans choose betway.co.za, itskiddoan.club, bet365.com, hdvideosnet.com and empowermentopportunities.com. 
  • Poker is also popular in South Africa, with poshukach.com, ggpoker.com, pokernow.club, playwpt.com and games.playwpt.com in the top five most visited sites.

Authorities in South Africa have already recognized the benefits that legal online sports betting can bring. And with declining profits from offline casinos, it’s time to think about introducing new laws that would make it possible to promote gambling and betting in South Africa completely legally. In the meantime, the established ban on online gambling in South Africa is not deterring offshore companies, and the betting industry is being successfully supported by both legal and not so legal operators! Now the officials are just figuring out how to make money from gambling, we are well placed to send quality traffic from South Africa and make money from it!

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