South Africa’s land-based casinos brought in a gross total of $1.7 billion in 2012. They totally stomped Kenya ($18 million) and even Nigeria ($31 million) despite having 1/3 the population. Crazy, right? What’s even more exiting to think about is the potential South Africa has to be even bigger. Remember – these are revenues from land-based casinos only. As you’ll soon find out online gambling is currently illegal.
Just imagine if they legalized online gambling – the numbers they could do. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to double it.
For right now your options are limited to online sports betting and a wide variety of options in one of the states 37 casinos. You’ll find more details on where and what you can play below, along with a brief outline of South Africa’s gambling laws.
Banking Options for South African Gamblers
You can fund your casino account using:
• Credit, debit and prepaid cards. The most common brands accepted include Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
• Direct bank transfers
Only a few banking options will let you deposit in Rand. The most common options – and ones you might have to exchange to – are the US dollar, euro, and pound.
The same goes for playing – few casinos will let you play in Rand. Chances are you’ll have to play in a different currency.
South Africa Gambling Laws & Regulations
Is gambling in South Africa illegal?
Yes, some forms are. But let’s start from the beginning.
Back in 1965 ALL forms of gambling were illegal, thanks to the Gambling Act. The only exception was horse betting because they viewed it as a sporting activity.
That didn’t stop people from gambling, though, albeit in unlicensed, underground rooms and casinos.
In the 1970s casinos started to open and by the 1990s there were more than 2,000 unlicensed and unregulated casinos in the state.
A new government took the reigns in 1994. With that came the National Gambling Act of 1996. This set the standards for what gambling is, how licenses should be distributed and what rules operators and players needed to follow.
A new version of the National Gambling Act was introduced in 2004. This prohibited online gambling for both the operators and players with the goal of protecting players from rogue casinos. The one exception here was sports betting.
Then in 2008 The National Gambling Amendment Act was introduced. The goal was to legalize interactive gambling (via the internet) and to provide standards for regulations. This bill has yet to pass, though.
And that’s where we’re at now. Online sports betting is okay, as is live gambling (as you can tell by the land-based casinos listed below). But other forms of online gambling are not – and are stated as such in the FAQs on the National Gambling Board website: 
Is online gambling legal in South Africa?
No. Section 11 of the National Gambling Act states: A person must not engage in or make available an interactive game except as authorised in terms of this Act or any other national law.
If you decide to gamble anyway and are caught, then you face fines of up to R10 million and / or up to 10 years in prison. 
Top Ten South African Casinos
There are 37 brick and mortar casinos in South Africa. Here are the top ten according to SouthAfrica.net:
1. Sun City Casino Resort – Other than gambling there is a golf course, an amusement park, live shows, food and kids activities.
2. Gold Reef City – You’ll find table games, high roller action, and 1,700 slot machines. The casino is open 24/7.
3. Montecasino – They have 78 table games and non-stop, 24-hour action.
4. Emperors Palace – They have one of the largest selections of games – 67 tables and more than 1,700 slot machines.
5. Sun Coast Casino and Entertainment World – Choose from lots of progressive slots including Wheel of Fortune, Zorro, Playboy and Sex and the City.
6. Boardwalk Casino – Other than the casino there’s a sports café, a movie theater, specialty shops and restaurants.
7. Grand West Casino and Entertainment World – Play over 2,500 slot machines and 68 table games including blackjack, easy poker, roulette and punto banco.
8. Wild Coast Sun Casino – Take your pick from over 500 slots games and 16 table games including blackjack, roulette, and poker. Bets range from R10 to R5000.
9. Carnival City – They have 1,750 slot machines and 60 table games for both smokers and non-smokers.
10. Silverstar Casino – Choose from over 800 slot machines and 20 table games.
This list is just a fraction of the brick and mortar casinos in South Africa.
Recent Developments in South African Gambling
There are two stories to come from South Africa in the last year. Funny thing – they’re both about bills on opposite ends of the spectrum.
- A bill was tabled that would legalize online gambling in South Africa. Right now only online sports betting is legal per the 2008 National Gambling Act. But this new bill would make it legal to play casino games online. No one expects the bill to pass.
- There is another bill. But if this one passes it would prohibit dog racing and online casinos in the state. Not everyone agrees with the bill, though. According to Geordin Hill-Lewis: That is a very, very bad decision. I fiercely disagree with that view. It is completely shortsighted to say that it is better for South Africans not to be allowed to gamble online when there is patently significant demand in the country to do that. It is for government to facilitate that in the safest way possible.