Legality of online sports betting in South Africa

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Online gambling is legal in approximately 70 different countries worldwide. Online sports betting is however legal in South Africa and all 9 provinces have a gambling and racing board. In order to offer online betting, SA bookmakers need to be licensed with one of these boards. The Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board is currently the largest provider of online bookmaker licenses, licensing 32 different online bookmakers. South African punters can make use of any licensed bookmaker regardless of which province they are licensed by. Winnings are not taxed on sports betting but a 6% tax in the form of VAT is deducted on all horse racing winnings. There are over 400 legal betting shops and 300 legal sports books available for South African punters to place bets on any sport event.

Betting on sports and horse racing online is legal and regulated in South Africa, but betting on poker and casino games is illegal. Technically speaking, South Africans can legally use an online gaming site provided that they only use it to bet on horse racing and sport events and not to use it for casino games or to play poker. Online gaming in the form of casinos and games is illegal in South Africa. The National Gambling Act of 2004 prohibited the offering and engaging of interactive gaming services while sports betting, betting on horse racing and the business of bookmaking remained legal in South Africa, providing that the businesses were licensed. The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 was an attempt to legalize interactive gambling and to prepare provisions for the regulation of the market. The act has not come into power and online gambling remains illegal. On 20 August 2010, even online gambling offered through servers from other countries became illegal in South Africa. Casino sites, punters, internet service providers and banks that process payments for online gamblers are subject to a fine of R10 million or 10 years of imprisonment. This also applies to any advertisements of online gaming from television, radio, newspapers and magazines.

The Gaming Regulations Africa Forum(GRAF) was established in 2003 and its founding members were South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Zambia. The GRAF is a body representative of gaming regulators within the African continent who aspire to be effective and credible in their regions and continentally. Currently countries represented in the GRAF are South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Members of different African jurisdictions have different regulatory regimes and frameworks within which they regulate gambling. The GRAF has a Education and Training Committee who have made great progress in training initiatives and each member state is encouraged to implement educational projects on gambling, such as awareness campaigns, within their areas of regulation. They are currently trying to establish a partnership with the Nevada Gaming Institution in order to implement education programs that will benefit African regulators.

Online betting and gambling is generally a grey area in most countries all over the world, the reason being that the laws may be unclear or constantly changing. It is however clear that online sports betting is legal in South Africa, regarded that it is done through a licensed bookmaker, and that online casinos, games and poker are not legal in South Africa and no South African punter should engage in online gambling, whether or not using an international site.

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