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The issue of South African gambling legality has long been a contentious and confusing one. Many websites state that online gaming is forbidden to South Africans, while others say that the law surrounding it is hazy, and that there is no actual written legislation that forbids South Africans from making online wagers. If you plan to engage in playing games online, you need to know exactly where South African law stands on how you spend your money and what kinds of rules you can expect a casino to have in place when the time comes for you to cash out.
There was a time in our history when gambling online was illegal, except for betting on sports events. Players who lived in South Africa could bet on the rugby score, but when they tried to play at an online casino, encountered the same restriction. They were either blocked when trying to register, or were able to register but then denied a withdrawal of funds due to our laws. Very recently, the government passed a bill that makes it legal for residents of South Africa, betting in rands with their South African bank accounts, to play online. However, this bill was passed with a number of restrictions.
The first rule that the government put in place was the payment rule. If you want to play at on online casino and you’re a South African, the only payment form that is legal is a credit or debit card. When you visit an online casino though, you may be presented with a number of payment options from Neteller to Western Union to an EcoCard. If you want to comply with our law, you should not be using these.
Another caution of the new bill was the number of casinos accepting South African rand (ZAR) that could operate in SA. The government’s aim was to only offer ten sites the licenses they needed to operate within the country, but because it is difficult to moderate the internet, there are actually hundreds if not thousands of casinos that will accept you as a South African, even if they are not technically allowed to. What this means for you when it comes to choosing a casino to play at, is that you need to find one that is properly licensed.
The short answer to the question of whether South African gambling legality should matter to you is yes, it should. If you are a South African resident with a South African bank account, you need to be aware of these rules and try not to break them if you don’t want to come under the scrutiny of the government. There is a cache of people who believe that when it comes to any online activity, they can get away with anything because there is very little cyber policing in SA.
Be aware though that South Africa is at the height of its cyber age, and that means that people who download movies illegally, engage in online crimes and even those who play illegally at online South African casinos may be in danger. Just last year, a South African man in the Western Cape was arrested after it was found that he had been illegally uploading movies to a torrent site. In itself, one arrest is not scary, but if you think about how this will be amplified in the next decade, you should ensure you stay on the right side of the law.
If you want to adhere to the law, there are a few things you should consider before you spend your cash at any online casino. The first rule of adhering to South African gambling legality is location, location, location. When you research online casinos, be sure to find out where the casino is hosted and who runs it. Playing at a ‘South African casino’ that is developed, run and hosted by a team in a never heard of before region of Peru should set off a few alarm bells. Of course, you will find that there are a number of casinos claiming to be South African that are hosted in some obscure Dutch or French territory you have never even heard of, such as the Netherlands Antilles. This is not a cause for concern, as long as the online site is one that is licensed in South Africa, a fact that you can check on its legal page.
Next, be sure to make your deposits using your credit or debit card. Though this may give you some security concerns, know that most SA cards are either Visa or MasterCard, and a reputable online casino will make use of a 3D verification system, such as Verified by Visa. Keep in mind too that you don’t have to play at a casino that doesn’t seem secure. Even if you have verified that the casino has a South African license, you don’t have to play there if you don’t feel that your financial information is secure.
Finally, keep in mind that South African gambling legality is a fluid concept. It is changing pretty rapidly to keep up with the way that the internet is changing, and though it has been a while since a review board took a long hard look at how online casinos can positively impact our economy, South Africa is quickly catching up to the rest of the globe in as far as online law is concerned.