Many South Africans like to have a bet, so it is no surprise online betting is on the rise in SA.
While online casinos are not permitted in South Africa, there are no laws against sports betting sites in the country, which means it is 100% legal to have a bet on the game of the day.
While online betting attracts more people in South Africa, lots of sports fans in the country may still be unsure about how to get started or sign up for a betting site account.
Our complete guide to online betting in South Africa covers all of the bases, so read on.
Let's start the guide by answering a very basic question first up: what exactly is online betting?
Simply put, online betting is gambling through the internet. Sports betting sites offer a wide range of markets for users to pick from, with a much bigger selection than traditional sportsbooks.
Essentially, if someone can think of something that they want to bet on, the chances are that there will be a South African betting site out there that allows them to do so.
A lot of different sports are available to bet on online, including those that are very popular in South Africa such as rugby, football, cricket, golf, tennis, athletics and horse racing.
In addition, many of the top betting sites in South Africa now give users the chance to bet on esports. With esports betting still quite new, this is not yet offered everywhere. But those who want to bet on esports such as Dota 2, FIFA, CS:GO, League of Legends and Call of Duty will increasingly see they are offered as options at many different South African sports betting sites.
That is still only scratching the surface of the sports betting options that are available online. Virtual sports are widely available, with simulated matches for sports such as football among those available to bet on in South Africa. Virtual sports run 24/7 too.
As well as betting pre-match, online gambling also lets people place wagers on the outcome of sporting events after they have started, during the game. Live in-play online betting can be a great way to make the action out there on the pitch or the course even more exciting to watch.
Online sports betting is the only form of gambling via the internet that is currently permitted in SA. In the next section of our complete guide to online betting in South Africa, we will detail current and historic online betting laws and regulations in South Africa.
Those who have never used the internet to gamble are likely to be unsure where to start. After all, it seems a lot more complicated than simply walking into a betting shop to place a wager. However, online sports betting is actually very easy once people get the hang of it. With mobile technology, it is possible to place sports wagers while on the move using sports betting apps.
The first step is choosing a betting site or app to use for online betting. There is a large choice available and this can be overwhelming for those who are unfamiliar with how it all works. It is worth taking some time to check out reviews of the best betting sites in South Africa to see which operators are the most trusted in the sector, plus which have the best available odds.
After deciding which betting site in South Africa to join, users need to go through the process of creating an account. This is normally quite straightforward and should not take longer than a few minutes. The form to register for a betting site account will likely ask customers to enter details such as their name, date of birth, address, email address, plus a username and a password.
After filling in all of this information to create a betting site account in South Africa, the next step before being able to start sports betting through the internet is to verify the account. Companies need to make sure the person who is creating an account is who they say they are, so it will usually be necessary to click a link that is sent via email to complete the sign-up process.
Once a user has an account on a South African betting site, they will have to deposit some funds before being able to place a bet. Various different payment methods are usually available at the best betting sites in South Africa, such as debit cards and e-wallets. Depositing into a betting site account does not usually have any fees and the process is fairly simple.
Online betting sites typically have an area known as the cashier. Here, users pick which banking method they want to use, enter the amount of money they want to deposit, then follow the on-screen instructions to complete the deposit process. Most of the big betting sites in South Africa allow players to deposit and play in Rand, which is the easiest currency to use in SA.
Keep in mind when joining a sports betting site in South Africa for the first time that there will usually be a welcome bonus available. This is often in the form of free bets, while some South African betting sites offer a deposit match bonus. This type of offer means that users making a deposit can be given extra cash - in the form of bonus money - to play with on the site. There are various terms and conditions to know about regarding welcome bonuses. There is often a wagering requirement that needs to be met before any winnings can be withdrawn. Wagering requirements simply means money has to be bet a certain number of times under the terms and conditions, which can vary a lot across the different sports betting sites in South Africa.
After all of these steps have been followed - which does not take nearly as long as it might seem at first glance - users will be ready to start placing wagers on their chosen sports betting site.
Various payment methods can be used for online betting in South Africa. The options can vary a substantial amount across the different sports betting sites that are out there. As a result, it can be a good idea to check an operator's approved payment methods before signing up with them. Other things to consider when choosing payment methods to use include the withdrawal time.
Here are some of the main payment methods offered for online betting in South Africa:
Visa: Most South Africans tend to use debit or credit cards as a payment method for online betting. Visa is one of the main providers of debit and credit cards in the country. Benefits of using Visa include that fees are not usually charged on transactions using their cards. Deposits should be made instantly, but withdrawals can take a few days to be processed using Visa. to use a Visa card to make a deposit, users will have to enter the card details into the betting site. Some may opt for other options as they do not want to share their financial information with operators of South African betting sites, though security is in place to keep their data safe.
Mastercard: For debit and credit cards, the main rival to Visa is Mastercard. Many people in South Africa who want to bet online will already have a Mastercard, which makes this a solid choice. Like Visa, Mastercard transactions do not normally have any fees charged. Mastercard has been a force in the payments industry for some 50 years, so it is very trustworthy.
EFT: Standing for electronic funds transfer, EFT is the main alternative to using debit or credit cards as a payment method for online betting in South Africa. This Rand-based option acts as a middleman between a betting site account and a user's personal bank account. To make transactions using EFT, South Africans will have to select their bank - from options like Nedbank, FNB, ABSA, Capitec, Investec and Standard Bank - and proceed with the EFT. Using EFT for deposits and withdrawals from South African online betting sites is considered safe.
OZOW: Among the secure EFT payment services that can be used as a payment method at South African betting sites is OZOW. Secure online payments can be made directly into a bank account by choosing OZOW, which claims to be the future of payment in South Africa.
SiD: Extra security is baked into SiD transactions at betting site accounts. This is due to the fact that users will be given a one-time PIN that has to be entered to complete each transaction. For this reason, security-conscious South Africans are likely to rank SiD among the top options.
Vouchers: A low-tech method of funding betting site accounts online is through vouchers. These can often be purchased at bricks and mortar betting shops as well as other outlets. By using vouchers, users can easily control how much they are spending on online betting. There are not usually any transaction charges attached to using vouchers but they might have an expiration date, so money on them will have to be used before the voucher expires.
E-wallets: Many people who bet online opt to use e-wallets to find their accounts. Popular global e-wallets include Skrill and Neteller - which are actually part of the same company - as well as PayPal. It is often the case that a few different e-wallets are included on the list of payment methods that can be used at a South African online betting site. One of the big plus points of using e-wallets is that it is one of the fastest withdrawal methods, but it is not always possible to claim welcome bonuses when signing up for betting site accounts by depositing with e-wallets. Another key benefit of e-wallets is they usually allow a variety of different currencies to be used.
Bank transfer: Direct bank transfers from the likes of Nedbank, FNB, ABSA, Capitec, Investec and Standard Bank are usually possible at betting sites in South Africa as well. For many, this will be the safest way to transfer money into and out of a betting account. However, a drawback here is that withdrawing via bank transfer can be quite a bit slower than the alternative options.
Keeping track of online betting laws and regulations in South Africa has not always been easy, with a lot of changes being made to the rules that are in place in the country over the years.
Historically, online betting laws and regulations in South Africa have been among the most strict in the world. While some nations such as the United Kingdom have very relaxed rules and regulations for gambling online, this is certainly not the case when it comes to South Africa.
Indeed, laws against gambling in South Africa have been in place ever since 1673. Users then had to adapt when South Africa's Gambling Act of 1965 was introduced as this confirmed an official ban on all forms of betting, including everything from casino games to sports betting.
The exception to this rule was horse racing betting, which was made legal in South Africa. What this means is that for a long time, the only legal sport to bet on in South Africa was horse racing.
A major shift occurred when a new government came to power in the country in the 1990s, a period during which hundreds of illegal online casinos had been set up in South Africa. Most of these were located in locations such as Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei and Venda and this indicated that the rules regarding betting and gambling were just not fit for purpose.
The new government brought in a change that meant all forms of gambling - not just betting on horse racing - became legal in South Africa for the first time. This led to a lot of development in the gambling sector, with expensive and impressive new large casinos being built in the country.
However, the new laws - passed through South Africa's National Gambling Act, which also established a national lottery - did not last. In the 2000s, another National Gambling Act repealed the previous legislation - and both offering and engaging in internet-based betting and gambling were banned. The wording that was used in the Act was "interactive gambling", which relates specifically to all types of casino games, plus poker and bingo.
There has been a lot of speculation in recent times that online betting laws and regulations in South Africa could change again. A few years ago, a bill was put forward that would have led to legislation being passed permitting gambling over the internet, but this was met with a lot of strong opposition, including from companies that operate land-based casinos in South Africa.
The National Gambling Board (NGB) - the official body that is fully responsible for the oversight of gambling industry regulation throughout SA - issued a reminder to gambling companies and the nation's citizens in 2020 about online betting laws and regulations in South Africa.
"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," the body said in a statement.
The short answer to the question of if online betting is legal in South Africa is: yes and no.
Many forms of online gambling are fully illegal in South Africa, such as online casino games like roulette and blackjack, plus bingo and poker, and this has been the case for a long time.
In fact, the only form of online betting that is legal in South Africa is actually sports betting. Operators must secure a license from one of the nine provinces in SA - which each have their own gaming boards - in order to run a legal sports betting site in the country.
The National Gambling Board - which oversees gambling industry regulation throughout South Africa - has reminded people they could face prosecution for illegally betting on the internet. Operators can also be punished if they are found to be running illegal online betting sites.
Online betting does not work in a particularly different way to gambling in an offline setting. Users still need to make their selection and set the stake that they want to bet on a wager.
The difference online is that there are many more markets to pick from, while the range of online sports betting sites in South Africa makes it easy to browse for the best possible odds.
Another key advantage of online betting in South Africa is that winning wagers are paid out automatically into an account and this usually happens straight after an event has happened.
Users do not have to go back into a traditional betting shop in order to claim the money they have won - they just log into their account and it will be right there, ready to withdraw.
Anyone who is not used to gambling is likely to be unsure about how the betting odds work. In the most simple terms, betting odds should show the probability of an event happening.
So, for example, for a 50/50 event such as the toss of a coin, the betting odds should be evens. This means a player would double their money if their guess on heads or tails was correct.
But this is only the start when it comes to how betting odds work. Betting sites in South Africa have what is known as a margin, which ensures that they will be able to make a profit. In practice, this means the odds for a toss of a coin would never add up to a full 100 per cent.
Additionally, various factors affect the betting odds, including how many people are placing wagers on a particular bet. If South Africa's rugby side are playing New Zealand and a lot of people are backing them to win, then the betting odds will be made shorter as a result of this.
It is often the case that betting odds will be made more appealing by boosted prices or enhanced odds too, as this is one of the main promotions that is used by South African betting sites.