3 Interesting Facts About the History and Current Gambling Climate in South Africa

South African Seal With Bingo Balls and Sun City Casino Background

South Africa has a rich history that is full of ups and downs. As far as gambling is concerned, it has been mostly restricted or outlawed all together until recent years.

With the gambling world treading new ground because of the rising popularity of online gambling, South Africa is in on the action without missing a beat.

Here are three interesting facts about the history and current gambling climate in South Africa that you might want to know.

1 – Restrictions on Gambling in South Africa Since 1673

Since 1673, there have been serious restrictions on any sort of gambling in South Africa.

South Africa’s Gambling Act of 1965 completely eliminated all forms of gambling with the exception of making bets on horse racing.

However, in 1965, leaders of the Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei, and Venda tribes decided to permit casino gambling in their territories. Then, the leaders of the Bantustan signed the first casino-related contract in South Africa with Holiday Inn and Southern Sun.

In 1983, Sol Kerzner, an owner of the Southern Sun company, sold his shares and set up the casino enterprise of Sun International. Within the next seven years, Sol Kerzner gained control of all 18 homeland gambling licenses.

South African Casino Owner Sol Kerzner

How the Southern Sun company was going to be taxed became of paramount importance to local South African leaders. Once Sol Kerzner decided to accept the terms of a very steep tax, Sun International was recognized as the top gambling company in South Africa.

In fact, it was the only gambling company in South Africa, thus, creating a monopoly, as Sun International became the only legal gambling enterprise in South Africa. Sun International was highly criticized for bringing in many workers from Europe to man their casinos instead of hiring South Africans to do the job. They did however eventually employ more South Africans.

And in 1994, Democratic reforms were enacted and gambling as a whole was legalized. The National Gambling Act in 1996 forged a path for a national lottery and licensed casinos. In 2004, another Gambling Act came into existence that repealed the 1996 Gambling Act and in 2008, The National Gambling Amendment Act was introduced.

So, as you see, the development of gambling in South Africa is rather recent.

2 – The National South African Lottery Is Extremely Popular

On March 11th, 2000, South Africa introduced its National Lottery. On the first day tickets were available, more than 800,000 were sold. The National Lottery was operated by Uthingo.

In November of 2003, a supplementary weekly lottery was introduced in addition to the weekly draw that started in March of 2000. The Lotto Plus game was able to be purchased on a primary ticket for a fee of one South African Rand.

Starting in 2007, the Gidani consortium was chosen to be the operator of the National Lottery for seven years. After some legal back and forth, and after the Gidani consortium losing this status for a few months, they were again awarded it in September of 2007.

Ticket sales resumed in October of 2007 and within the first three hours, 200,000 tickets were sold. The traditional Lotto in South Africa is much like other places around the globe.

Powerball Plus Lottery Ticket

Playing the lottery involves choosing six numbers ranging from 1 to 52 and a “Quick Pick” option is available for players that don’t want to think about choosing numbers. Five of 52 numbered balls are chosen during the lottery and, in addition to these balls, a bonus ball is drawn. However, this bonus ball only affects the outcome of a player who has matched all of the previous five selected numbers.

Players that match at least three balls will win some money and if a player matches more than three, the amount of money that a player wins increases.

If multiple players match all six numbers, then they split the jackpot evenly. If all six numbers are not matched by any individual, then the jackpot amount is added to the jackpot of the next lottery drawing. Wednesdays and Saturdays are when the draws take place.

PowerBall and PowerBall PLUS are extremely popular. In the beginning, players would pick numbers between 1 and 45 in addition to a PowerBall number. Regular numbers that matched would win and if your PowerBall number matched, you received an even higher prize. If you match all five regular numbers in addition to the PowerBall number, you win the jackpot.

In recent years, the game has been changed so players can now pick main numbers between 1 and 50. Another recent change was that if players only matched the PowerBall, they would now win something. At the inception of the game, just having a PowerBall match awarded the player nothing.

On November 28th of 2015, PowerBall PLUS came into existence, which gives players an additional chance to win. EAZiWIN are digital scratch-off cards offered by the National Lottery, offering another way for players to try their luck at a lotto game.

3 – Casinos for Every Budget Are Available

Whether you are a high roller or not, South Africa has a casino for you. Let’s take a look at three casinos in South Africa; one for high rollers, one for the person on a medium-sized budget, and a low-budget option.

Within Pilanesberg National Park is the Cascades Casino Resort. Within the resort is the Sun City Casino, and it is open 24 hours a day. With more than 40 table games and around 1,000 slots, this 5,000-square-foot casino is one of the most beautiful casinos in the world.

Exterior of Sun City Casino South Africa

MVG is the loyalty club available at the Sun City Casino. Being a member of this club gets you access to a private poker room, various table games, and high roller slots in the VIP Lounge.

With 243 guest rooms, each guest can enjoy a whirlpool tub in their bathroom and also the convenience of a kitchenette. As a guest of the hotel, you will also get access to a gym, a pool complex, and a nightclub.

If you have more of a medium-sized budget, then the City Lodge Hotel GrandWest is a great choice. They have great rooms that overlook Cape Town, and you can usually get a room there for about $90 USD.

This casino has more table games than any other casino in all of Africa as well as one of the best poker rooms in existence, and it is open around the clock. Omaha and Texas Hold ‘em are the most common forms of poker played there.

You will want to book a room in advance as there are only around 170 of them available and they usually get booked months in advance.

Some of the great restaurant options include Jackson Hall, Hanover Street, Alibama Sports Bar, Food Court at GrandWest Casino, The Coffee Shop, Bella Gina, Bukhara, Silver Dollar Spur at GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World, and Quarterdeck Restaurant among others.

Emerald Resort and Casino in South Africa

The Emerald Resort and Casino is perfect for those on a low budget. Rooms go for about $70 USD a night, and even though this casino is not as expensive as the others, you will still have an excellent gaming experience.

Even though the casino floor is only 32,000 square feet, there are many gaming options available within this space. With 600 gaming machines, 21 casino table games, and a poker room, you will have no problem finding a game that tickles your fancy.

You can take a river cruise or go on a mini safari at the River Resort facility that is on-site. Houseboats can also be rented right next to this location on the beautiful Vaal River.


South Africa is a very interesting place, and their gambling culture has developed rather quickly and is actually considered a gambling hotspot by tourists from all over the world. South Africa is also filled with great food, culture, and nightlife that is truly unforgettable.

The gambling industry has helped the economy of South Africa and increased the quality of life of its citizens by providing workers a new stream of revenue within the dozens of casinos, sportsbooks, and lottery outposts that continue to spread across the country.

Did you enjoy reading about the history and current gambling climate in South Africa? If so, let me know in the comments.