Look at our table with the top three bookmakers in South Africa and learn what the situation with their welcome offer is regarding amount, percentage of sign up bonus, minimum deposit and odds. These are the most reputable and trustworthy betting sites for players in SA.
TOP Bookmakers in South Africa
Despite the current restrictive legal aspects currently restricting the local online betting and casino industry South African gamblers still have access to the excellent services as provided by several of Europe’s top online gambling operators, specifically in the field of sports betting. We summarise the details of some of the prime choices in our writings below.
Established in 2006, this bookmaker set out from the start to establish itself as one of the online world’s premier sports betting operators. The brand’s initial quick-expansion strategy still seems to pay off handsomely, considering its steadily gained ground on its peers in this competitive arena. Initially serving the CIS countries in Europe, Betway gained traction amongst local bettors encouraging them to take its operations internationally. That saw it expanding into many European EU member countries, including that of South Africa by offering excellent live streaming service to name but a few.
- Licensed Betting Platform
- Reputable and Famous Brand
- Useful Betting Features
- Excellent Odds
- No Casino Promotions
After investing their knowledge in the digital market, the crew behind 1xBet managed to establish the brand as one of the leading and most trustworthy bookmakers in the whole world. The name of Bet365 is a symbol of professionalism. In the past few years, the brand is gaining a lot of popularity in South Africa. Also, since its recent rebranding a major shareholder, Michael Tabor, took over ownership of the company and has in the years managed to re-establish itself as a solid option for the discerning punter by offering speedy withdrawals, some of the most competitive odds on the market and a complete range of betting products and options.
- Excellent sportsbook
- Useful betting features
- Attractive odds
- Generous bonuses
- Superb casino
- No betting exchange
Operating in the highly competitive online arena for several years allowed the operator to build a reputation as a reliable, trustworthy, and experienced bookmaker. With Sportingbet continually focused on the improvement of its product saw several features added or improved upon, such as its quality live animation services covering most live events featured in its sportsbook. The company markets itself as a great option to those interested in markets other than the main entertainment verticals such as football.
- Excellent Sportsbook
- Reputable and Reliable brand
- Excellent Promotions
- Good Range of Payments
- Too few Casino Games
Found in 2005 in South Africa, Gbets is one of the famous and most trusted bookmakers in this country. It’s designed to meet the expectations of the local players. That’s why the platform of Gbets offers a complex betting experience to its customers, including sports betting, virtual disciplines, Lucky Numbers, BetGames TV, Jika Sports, Keno and more to its portfolio.
- Experienced bookmaker
- Reputable and licensed brand
- Variety of bonuses
- Useful betting features
- Good sportsbook
- Excellent casino
- No downloadable mobile apps
- Questionable design
Hollywoodbets is a recognisable brand to all experienced customers. It was founded in 1999 and holds a license issued by the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board. The brand Hollywoodbets is associated across South Africa with trust, reliability and innovations. The platform is easy-to-navigate and offers many betting opportunities.
- High odds in the sportsbook
- Cashout option for punters
- Lots of promotions
- Few casino games
Why Choose Online Betting in South Africa?
In 1673, the overseers of the Dutch governor in Cape Town made the decision to ban all forms of gambling, a law that remained in place and essentially unchanged for the next 292 years. However, by the mid-1700s the country’s ruling elite began breeding thoroughbred horses, which resulted in a change in the law to allow for betting on horseracing. Despite several changes in government over the following three centuries, the state maintained the status quo, that is until the Gambling Act of 1965 officially banned all types of gambling in South Africa. It however excluded wagering on horseracing, which is still considered a sporting activity that required a measure of skill. The irony of that is it one whereby wagering on horses had become an ingrained part of the South African culture.
The late 1970s saw a number of land-based casinos established in the regional homelands. Due to the remoteness of these regions, it essentially meant most citizens could not pay regular visits to the newly opened venues. However, a newly elected government that came into power in 1994 had a dramatic effect on the local gambling landscape when it passed the Gambling Act of 1996. This, in effect, legalised all forms of gambling in the country. By 1995, due to initially ineffective regulatory controls, estimated figures from the National Gaming Board (NGB) placed the number of illegal casinos operating within the country somewhere north of 2000.
The 1996 Act provided for regulatory oversight of all gambling activities and instituted uniform standards for all forms of gambling throughout the industry. It furthermore instituted the National Gaming Board as the executing body responsible for implementing, applying, and exercising control measures such as the issuing of licences and ensuring operators met the required criteria within country borders. The act also authorised the approval of up to 40 local gambling licenses as well as a singular national lottery.
Gambling Facts at a Glance
Introduced on the 14th of February 1961, in the then Union of South Africa, three months before the country declaring itself a republic, the South African Rand continues to serve as the country’s official currency till the present day. Its decimal system aimed to replace the South African pound as its legal tender at a rate of two rands to one pound.
A fast-growing population currently estimated at 58.1 million people, according to the latest statistical data provided by the UN, places the country 25th on a ranking of the world’s most populous countries.
According to a 2017 study and report compiled by the NGB, it estimates the number of South African people who actively gambled during the previous 12 months at just over 10 million individuals. With the more significant part (78.9%) of their gambling activities involving the purchase of national lottery tickets, while in 2017 the country’s combined land-based casino and sports betting industry accounted for a GGR just short of ZAR27 billion in the same year.
Established as a proviso of The National Gambling Act of 1996 that first legalised gambling in South Africa the National Gambling Board remains the singular regulatory body tasked with and responsible for executing and controlling all aspects of the country’s gambling laws.
Licensed gambling products
The National Gambling Act of 1996 provided for the licencing and regulation of the following gambling products:
Types of operators
The 1996 Act also provides the NGB to issue a limited number of operating licences (41) for the following both online and land-based types of gambling venues:
By 2004, a newly approved National Gambling Act revoked and replaced the Act of 1996. This was followed by yet another change in 2008 when the state tabled The National Gambling Amendment Act, with its primary aim being the legislation and regulation of all interactive gaming types. However, by 2019 the act still is awaiting parliamentary approval due to its introduction creating friction with powerful organisations. This included anti-money laundering authorities as well as its land-based gambling operators.
On the 20th of August 2010, pending parliamentary approval of the 2008 Gambling Amendment Bill, the NGB, under instruction and authority of the state banned all forms of online gambling. The ban came into effect as a result of a North Gauteng High Court ruling on the validity of jurisdictional online gambling transactions throughout the country. The span of its intent incorporated blocking access to reputable international operators presenting their services from servers based outside the country’s jurisdictional regions. However, the law still allowed access to a limited number of province-licensed online sportsbooks offering a severely restricted range of sporting types, markets, and betting options. This fortunately still allowed for wagering on many of the country’s most popular sports types, including horseracing.
Consequent to the ruling, both the offering of online gambling services and the action of engaging in online gambling was deemed illegal. Those found guilty of failing to adhere to this law faced penalties that include fines of up to ZAR10 million and/or jail terms of up to 10 years imprisonment. The span of guilt even extends to include media channels whose services include those that facilitate or transmit the advertising of online gambling media. However, all hope is not lost as the National Gambling Act of 2008 may yet see the light of day after an appeal hearing against the high court ruling banning the interactive gambling legislation concludes.
Are there restrictions on South African players by some bookmakers?
As per most of our discussion so far, pending the outcome of an appeal hearing, South African gamblers face massive restrictions in all areas, but doubly so for those preferring the online varieties of gaming. However, by virtue of the various previously mentioned National Gambling Acts and its amendments, all forms of land-based gambling remain completely legal at any of the legally licenced land-based and a few provincially licenced betting sites.
How to Choose the Right Online Betting Site
South African gamblers in need of a reliable, trustworthy online betting partner need to calculate the following considerations into their list of essential requirements. Applying these factors to your shortlist selections will assist you in avoiding the challenges associated with shopping online for a new gambling partner.
- How do its existing members rate the venue’s reputability for honesty and trustworthiness?
- Do these venues meet and comply with local gambling regulatory requirements and hold a valid licence issued by the NGB?
- Do your preselected choices offer 24/7 live chat support from their service team?
- Do they feature the full range of betting markets and product allowed for in the local market?
- How comprehensive is their featured range of betting tools, does it include a bet builder, Cash out, betslip editor, and a live streaming video service extensively covering the action available in their betting markets and events?
Bonuses for Players from South Africa
South African bettors have, via the services of Europe’s leading sportsbook providers, access to a great range of sports betting bonuses. This includes generous signup offers as well as a variety of special promotional bonuses from the bookmakers in our summary above.
Welcoming signup bonuses range from Free Bets awarded for simply transacting your first deposit or when placing a first bet. Existing members have an even greater variety of specials to choose from including daily, weekly, and/or monthly reload bonuses, a return on lost bets for the week, exclusive tournaments, special price clubs, enhanced odds, special boosted pricing, and numerous others.
South Africa has one of the most culturally diverse populations on earth, which, as a result, has equally wide-ranging tastes in the various sports which they prefer to place wagers on. As expected in a country where international rugby, soccer, and football sporting events calendars elicit emotions from their respective fans, both are featured in the number 1 spot of sports to bet on. However, the cultural diversity reflects clearly in the variety of sports popularly wagered on listed below in descending order of their respective popularity:
- Horse racing
- Athletics – variety
Are Online Casinos Popular in South Africa?
In the 2006/2007 fiscal year, the NGB reported a figure of ZAR13.52 billion in Gross gambling Revenue, up by ZAR2.12 billion from figures reported the previous year. With 86.2% of the GGR primarily generated via the country’s regulated land-based casino industry.
This essentially means that the current restrictive policies that hamper online casino activities are responsible for preventing Africa from becoming one a large online gambling market. Despite the current restrictions, South Africa’s active economy and relatively high standards of living still rank it by turnover as the second largest gambling market in Africa. With a population of only 58 million people and 10 million gamblers, it comes a close second to Nigeria’s freely accessible online gambling market with its over 195 million inhabitants.
Trivia/Did you know that…
- documentation describing the 1673 legislation banning gambling in the then Dutch potentate became the world’s first codified form of gambling regulation
- South Africa is home to several of the largest and wealthiest casinos in Africa and the Southern hemisphere
- Opened in 1979, the Sun City group of resorts in the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve is by surface area nearly three times larger than its closest competitor of the same nature in the world
- The Palace of the Lost City casino resort has the largest man mage jungle in the world comprising of over 1.2 million plants and trees
- Built at a cost of ZAR1.6 billion inside a massive structure in Fourways, Johannesburg, Monte Casino closely replicates, Monte Casino, the ancient Tuscan village it is themed after
Available Mobile Apps
Gambling locals benefit greatly from having access to several of Europe’s foremost online gambling brands still legally operating within the country’s borders and remaining on the list of betting companies in South Africa. This allows them to benefit from being somewhat exposed to Europe’s most popular bookmakers who have become the best bookmakers available in South Africa.
The respective brands each offer one or both forms of mobile solutions, meaning first-rate apps dedicated to either the Android or iOS software environments and/or a dedicated mobile portal/virtual version of their full-sized website fully optimised and customised to deliver the best possible betting app on mobile. These dedicated, branded mobile apps all differ dramatically in look and respective operating methods but still have quite a few factors in common, fortunately, all favourable factors.
These include optimised interfaces and custom controls fully able to maximise the benefit offered by touchscreens and their reduced screen sizing. App features offer the same range of sports, betting markets, and features fielded by their respective full websites, including banking, communications, live streaming, and live chat support.
Supported Payment Methods
South Africans benefit from having access to a huge range of globally popular and trusted bank and finance options, with most of these options, also seeing common use throughout Europe. This allows them to fund their sports betting accounts using Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Visa Electron, Neteller, Skrill, PayPal and direct electronic Bank Transfers.
Credit and debit card transactions mostly reflect instantly, while PayPal may take up to 3 or 4 business days. Alternatively, those wishing to fund their accounts via a bank transfer may require up to 24 hours depending on each individual financial institution.
The local tax laws can be seen as conflicting, and at times, seem murky as deciphering the taxation of gambling winnings can be a challenge. However, its taxation law in this matter is, in fact, quite easy and clear. To refrain from becoming overly technical, it essentially groups individuals into two separate types of entities. The first of those are individuals who play casually, and the second are those who gamble professionally. Casual gambling activities are not taxed irrespective of the value, including national lottery wins. However, according to SARS’s sliding tax scale will become liable to pay tax on winnings based on this tax scale.
Can I place a wager with Bet365 in South Africa & is Bet365 legal in South Africa?
No, you cannot legally place a bet with Bet365 as the brand has chosen to withdraw from the local online scene. As such, it will not entertain membership applications from South African citizens.
Can the local banks confiscate my winnings derived from gambling at an unlicensed offshore online venue?
Yes, under instruction and authority of the state and High Court system, they will certainly confiscate all your winnings derived via illegal online means.
Will international brands such as 1XBet limit my winnings like some of the local sportsbooks if I win too often or too much?
No, they will, according to their own terms and conditions, not impose limits on regular on large winners unless they suspect abuse or a breach of their ethics code.
Which are the best online sites for South African residents to gamble at?
It would be best if you remain with any of the leading international brands we discussed. This is due to their operating higher standards and offering better prices.
How much can I expect to get from the welcome bonus if I sign-up with one of the international brands?
Obviously, the amount can vary significantly between the various brand, but some offer up to ZAR1500 as a welcome bonus but be certain to familiarise yourself with the T&Cs of each prior to signing up.
When will South African laws legalise online gambling?
Online wagering is already legal, albeit in a slightly watered-down form. You simply need to ensure you gamble at a venue holding a valid SA gambling license.
Which betting exchange would you recommend to South African locals?
None legally. Sadly, due to the regulatory climate, all bet exchanges like Betfair, the world’s largest exchange chose to withdraw its services from the SA market after 2012.
Despite a series of recent financial setbacks, South Africa remains Africa’s strongest economy by several orders of magnitude. It has modern world-class cities, and numerous quite incredible casino resorts spread throughout the country, such as the Pilanesberg Sun City resort and the magnificent ancient city of Monte Casino. It remains a shame that a country offering such online potential remains kneecapped by the political and legal incompetence of the authorities placed in charge of maintaining it.