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Many South Africans like to have a bet, so it is no surprise online betting is on the rise in SA. Despite ongoing confusion over online gambling laws in South Africa, betting on sports such as horse racing and soccer betting remains very popular around the country.
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.
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 new 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 mean 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.
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 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.
Elizabeth Marole is responsible for content on BettingGuide ZA. She has prior experience as a math teacher and plays poker professionally when not writing for BettingGuide. Please contact her for any inquiries regarding gambling in South Africa.