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Will Online Gambling Increase in South Africa in 2023?

With lightning-fast internet available on all sorts of mobile devices and new online casinos being launched daily, it is no wonder that South Africa has seen significant growth in online gambling numbers over the years. However, will online gambling increase in South Africa in 2023?

 

In this article, we will try to shed light on the current regulatory environment in South Africa regarding both online and offline gambling and assess in which direction this is going. Additionally, we will share some interesting facts about online gambling in South Africa.

Online Gambling Activity Projections for 2023 in South Africa

According to a recent report, the usage of smartphones by South African players has drastically increased online casino and sportsbook activity. Nowadays, over 200 million mobile gamblers form the consumer base in the country, generating billions in revenue for online casinos and sportsbooks operating in South Africa. There are several crucial reasons why mobile gaming, and gambling in particular, is so popular.

South Africans Love to Bet 

It is apparent that South Africans simply love to bet, just like Australians. The love for betting is the core reason the South African online gambling market is set to surge this year. Betting is simply a part of South African lifestyle and culture. According to Statista, over 50% of South African residents regularly gamble, both at sports events and at (land-based) casinos.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Mobile gambling and sports betting has seen a significant boost ever since the COVID-19 pandemic initiated and heavy restrictions were introduced and imposed on South African people. Because of the pandemic, many South Africans found themselves out of work and took to sports betting and gambling to try and earn money. 

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South African Betting Culture

As we briefly mentioned before in this article, watching and betting on sports events is heavily embedded in South African culture. The most popular sports to bet on are undoubtedly rugby, football, golf, horse racing, and cricket. It is known that many South African adults place bets regularly and occasionally play casino games. Mobile gamblers even spend an average of 4 hours a day at their favourite online casino(s) and sportsbook(s). 

Knowing these facts, it is not difficult to understand that the online gaming industry will only continue to grow in South Africa in 2023, especially when we take into account that a new bill will be introduced that aims to legalise online gambling for real money in the country.

New Bill Aims to Legalise Online Gambling for Real Money in South Africa

South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has recently issued a draft bill that will regulate the online gambling industry. Local lawmakers have tried for over 14 years to regulate the industry more effectively. 

 

As of writing, South African law permits online gambling to be offered by licensed operators that have acquired a gambling license issued by a provincial authority. In contrast to many other countries, South Africa doesn’t have any national legislative framework in place. 

 

The reason for this is that the National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008, which was meant to regulate online gambling, never passed. By not regulating both online and offline gambling in the country, criminal activity is actively encouraged, and consumers are not protected at all. 

 

Note that although this new bill was recently passed, the entire regulatory framework is not yet implemented. The reason for this is that it will consist of 3 phases. The first step will be regulating license issuing, which will still be done by provincial authorities. This first bill will also provide more clarity to license objections. 

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The second phase of the bill will mainly focus on the regulation of gambling ads. The aim of this particular phase of the bill is to protect minors and vulnerable persons. Last but not least, the bill will aim to make sure SA-facing online, and physical casinos are compliant with South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA). When the final bill is presented, all operators, both online and land-based, may submit their opinions on it to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

Current Legal Status of Online Gambling in South Africa

Although many South Africans like to gamble online, essentially even licensed land-based casinos are prohibited from offering their services online. This means that although sports betting, daily fantasy games, online poker and lotteries are legal, ‘’core casino’’ games like Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, and slots are prohibited. 

 

There are many offshore casinos actively offering these types of games of chance to South African players, which is a bit of a grey area. These offshore casinos can promote their game offerings to whomever they want, and local governments can’t block them. With the new bill in place, both offshore and local casinos will be able to offer their games online completely legal and without repercussions.  

New Types of Casino Games Becoming Increasingly Popular in South Africa

Apart from traditional casino games like Blackjack, Roulette, and Poker, new forms of gambling like online bingo, so-called crash games, and other instant win games are becoming increasingly popular. It must be noted that this trend isn’t just prevalent in South Africa but across the entire globe. 

 

One of the key reasons for this is the promotion of said games on popular video platforms like YouTube and Twitch by prominent influencers and famous gamers. Apart from a wave of new casino games, e-sports gambling is becoming increasingly popular as well, with famous sportsbooks taking bets on popular video games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and CounterStrike: Global Offensive.

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Despite new casino games being on the rise in the country, many residents continue to participate in the South African National Lottery, with over 7% of the entire population participating regularly.

How Does Gambling Taxation Work in South Africa?

Gambling taxation in South Africa works quite simply. If you have a regular job and gamble every now and then for fun, your winnings won’t be taxable at all. However, you should still declare the winnings to the SARS as non-taxable income in order to play by the rules. 

 

If, on the other hand, you are a professional gambler, let’s say a punter who consistently makes money from sports betting or a professional poker player, and your sole income is from gambling, then you will need to declare your winnings and losses to SARS, and they will be subject to normal taxation.

How does this go in New Zealand?


The situation in New Zealand is pretty much the same as in SA. The current laws are outdated and go back to the pre-internet age. At this moment there is debate in NZ as well about the laws and parties try to push a new law that regulates all sorts of online gambling. The law in NZ is a little weird as it does allow players to play off shore online casinos, on Malta for example. The situation is so weird at this moment that the biggest casino brand in the country (SkyCity) launched its online counterpart using a Maltese company. Find out more about online gambling in New Zealand

Conclusion – Will Online Gambling Increase in South Africa in 2023?

The short answer to this question is: yes, online gambling is likely to increase in South Africa in 2023. Going into more detail, the reason behind this plausible growth is the increase of mobile gaming and the legalisation of online gambling within the foreseeable future. Other factors include the rising popularity of instant win games in general and the fact that gambling or betting is nested within the South African culture.

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