Where can we bet securely and which are the leading bookmakers in South Africa?
To find a reputable and trustworthy online bookmaker in South Africa will not be an easy task, so we provide you with a table with the leading betting websites in the country. All of them have a big name in the industry, so they deserve a try.
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Gambling in South Africa has enjoyed a checkered past, from being completely banned, to currently being mostly (but not completely) legalized and regulated. Although South Africans are limited to national companies when it comes to betting online, there are still several large brands that they can choose from, and enjoy their time.
Interesting Facts about Betting in South Africa
- The first casino in South Africa was built in 1974, and the country now has 38
- Annual revenue from 2019 is expected to exceed R30 billion
- South Africa has one of the largest gambling markets in Africa
- Casinos make up 72% of the market’s total revenue
- Even though casinos generate more money, the most popular form of gambling is the lottery
- Annually, illegal gambling costs the government over R140 million in lost taxes
Gambling Legislation and Laws
Gambling was illegal in South Africa until 1996, when the government created the 1996 National Gambling Act. This allowed gambling to be regulated by the National Gambling Board (NGB) and also allowed provinces to dictate and give out their own licenses to operate within their boundaries. The country also passed the 2004 National Gambling Act, which approved certain types of online gambling (mostly just sports betting), but not online casinos.
The law also states that online gambling services based outside of the country are not legally allowed to offer their services to South Africans – they are limited to what the country offers them.
Competition between Operators
Luckily for South African punters, there is no monopoly operating either online or offline. Although Sun casinos owned and operated the majority of the casinos in the country at one point, they have since branched out, and there are a diverse number of vendors on the market. This is beneficial to punters because it means that market competition freely exists, and bookmakers are constantly offering competitive odds, and different sports and betting options. Users can pick and choose the site that works best for them.
Bonuses from South African Bookmakers
South Africans are spoilt for choice when it comes to all of the bonuses and promotions that they are offered. Bookmakers try and entice new users by providing a range of rewards, and users can choose a site that offers promotions that are most compatible with their betting interests.
When registering for a betting site, most will offer their new customers a welcome bonus. These often appear very exciting – most sites offer bonuses in the range of R500 – R1,000. Usually, they match the amount of the customers’ first deposit. Punters should always be wary because although these welcome bonuses seem large, they often come with extensive wagering requirements before any winnings can be withdrawn.
Although new users can receive these benefits, existing members are also encouraged to continue to use the site. There are always ongoing bonuses for customers, and these are often more diverse than the welcome bonuses. Punters can receive increased odds on specific games, double their winnings, and free bets. These promotions occasionally change, so users should frequently check the promotions page to ensure they are not missing out on anything.
Betting Features and Options in the South African Bookmakers
South African bookmakers offer their punters a range of different services for clients, to make their experience as enjoyable as possible. Some of the features that are widely offered include:
Available Payment Methods
There are a number of different payment methods that are widely accepted to deposit and withdraw money from gambling sites. These include Visa and Mastercard credit/debit cards, bank transfers, as well as 1-Voucher. The majority of these options are free, and while most of them are instantaneous, the bank transfers can take up to 3 working days to process. Punters should note that most betting sites will only allow you to withdraw money using the same method that you used to deposit it.
One of the benefits of having an online gambling market that must be based within South Africa means that it will always accept the local currency. South Africa uses Rand (ZAR), and punters can place bets using this. When punters use illegal international sites, they will frequently have to convert their currency, and while most sites offer this service, they can charge high conversion fees. This is just another reason to stick to local, legal sites.
Mobile Betting in South Africa
With the rise of smartphones, mobile betting is becoming the new way to bet online and is almost as famous as betting on a desktop site. Practically all reputable betting sites in South Africa offer a mobile version of their website and an app to download. These are generally free and work for both Apple and Android devices. These apps contain all of the content and options that can be found on the main site, but in an easier to navigate format for small, touch screens. This allows punters the convenience of betting wherever and whenever they want.
At a national level, it is illegal for any South African to gamble on online casinos, as they were not legalized when other forms of online gambling were. Despite this, there are still a number of betting sites that offer casino services to punters. As it stands, there is no risk of prosecution for punters who do access these sites, which mean that a lot of people try their luck. It should be essential to note that due to their illegal nature, there is no legal support if something goes wrong with an offshore betting site.
Leading Sports for Betting in South Africa
Because sports betting is one of the only legal forms of online gambling in the country, it enjoys unrivalled popularity. The country itself is known to be very good at a number of sports, and betting on games remains a common pastime. Here are some of the most popular sports to bet on:
Football is the most popular sport in the world to play, and South Africa loves the sport also. They hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and they were the first African country to do this. Since then, gambling on the sport has increased, and all sites offer extensive coverage of the national team, locally referred to as Bafana Bafana.
Cricket is another team sport that South Africa performs exceptionally well. The country annually competes in the Cricket World Cup and betting on the sports spikes whenever the national team is playing. If punters are not interested in the national team, most sites will allow betting on inter-state tournaments, and provide a range of different betting options.
Rugby is one of the most popular sports in the country, and it is no wonder. The national team are consistently one of the best teams in the world, and many people follow the sport. All South African betting sites offer extensive coverage of the sport at an international level, so punters can bid on teams from other countries, but also at a local state level, for something closer to home.
Although this is one of the lesser-played sports in the country, it still enjoys a healthy betting following. Many people enjoy the fast-paced matches, and there is always extensive coverage of the major international tournaments such as the US Open and Wimbledon.
- Boxing and MMA
This is a betting market that is relatively new compared to some of the other sports, but the following behind it is growing. Boxing and MMA are played in South Africa, but they are not as popular as they are overseas, so the majority of the betting markets focus on international events. But if they are interested, punters can follow along with UFC or other popular tournaments, placing their bets and often watching live streams of events.
The Profile of a South African Bettor
Relatively little is known about South African bettors, other than the fact that more and more people are beginning to bet, and online gambling is becoming more popular, while the number of offline gaming venues also continues to rise.
The advent of mobile gambling apps has increased the ease with which people can bet and has played a significant part in betting within the country.
Is online gambling legal in South Africa?
Yes, some forms of online gambling are legal. Sports betting is legal, while casinos are considered to be illegal. It is illegal to play on an overseas or unlicensed site, but punters can take full advantage of a South Africa-based bookmaker that has received a license from one of the states within the country.
Are there any taxes for South African players on their winnings?
This is dependent on the situation. If you are playing for fun (but you also have a job that you pay taxes on), then you are not required to pay taxes on your casual winnings. But if you are considered a professional gambler, and have no other means of income that can be taxed, this is considered your occupation and you would be taxed just like any other job.
Can I bet using Rand?
Yes, most local sites will accept it as a form of currency to bet with. It is actually preferable to bet using Rand because then you do not have to pay expensive currency conversion fees.
How to find the best betting app for South Africa?
There is not one single betting app that stands out as the best in the country. Instead, it is down to personal preference and what each bettor likes in terms of the layout of the site, and the variety in their gambling market. However, there are certain things that punters should always check for, to increase the chance that they are betting on one of the best sites.
Firstly, a site should always be registered to a state within South Africa, making it legal to play on. This means that punters are legally covered if something goes wrong, and they do not run the risk of being persecuted for gambling illegally (even though this risk is slim). Secondly, more significant sites tend to have a wider variety of sports available to bet on, as well as better promotions and betting options. This should be taken into consideration, but ultimately the best site is one that the individual user prefers, regardless of anything else.
Are there any betting restrictions for South African players?
Yes, it is illegal to bet on online casinos, they are restricted to sports betting only. Online casinos do still advertise and offer their services to South Africa, so if a player really wants to bet on them, it is possible, it is just illegal.
Is betting on foreign websites safe?
Not really. Legally, South Africans can only bet online using sites that are based and registered in South Africa, and foreign websites are illegal. Even though they might be highly reputable, it is still recommended that you stay away from them.
Gambling in South Africa has come a long way since its’ blanket ban in the ’90s during Apartheid, but it is still not as progressive as several other international markets. The South African government recognizes that they are losing millions of Rand in taxes due to the illegal online casinos that still operate, which also leave South Africans open to fraud. Every so often, there is the talk of extending and better regulating the online market, but until that happens, South Africans should just stick to sports betting online just to be safe.