South Africa is a fascinating country with a rich history. The past centuries have been quite turbulent. Wars, popular uprisings, settlers: South Africa has known it all. In the world of games of chance, too, we see that South Africa has never been idle. For example, the first measures against games of chance go back to 1670, and gambling would be almost completely banned a few centuries later. For example, from 1965 only betting on horse races would be legal. At the end of the 1970s, however, South Africa was once again under the spell of illegal casinos that were run in so-called Bantustans. This refers to an independent region within the borders of South Africa and Namibia, where the black populations lived during the apartheid era. It is estimated that in 1994 there were as many as 2000 illegal casinos in South Africa.
Gambling law in South Africa
That year would immediately bring about a turnaround. In 1994, the new democratic government decided to regulate all forms of gambling. With that, the National Gambling Act was also a fact. With this, the games of chance are supervised, just as is done in the Netherlands, for example, by the Gaming Authority (KSA). With the new arrangement, there would be room for regular land-based casinos and a national lottery. In addition, the popular horse races were also brought under the new legislation.
If we look at Africa as a whole, we mainly see that the casinos can be found in countries such as Egypt, and therefore also South Africa. Huge Egypt currently has about 20 casinos, while South Africa now has about 40. This makes it the leader in Africa when it comes to the number of gambling facilities. In comparison, there are only six casinos in the casino destination of Senegal, while Tunisia5 counts. While that’s not to say there’s no gambling at all in Africa, it’s certainly a lot less common there than in Europe, North America, or some Asian countries. In addition, there are also not very many figures about gambling in Africa. They do exist for South Africa and although they are somewhat outdated, they do indicate how things are going. For example, a 2006 study shows that the most popular games of chance can be divided as follows:
- National Lottery: 96.9% (of those surveyed have participated)
- Slots: 27.7%
- Scratch cards: 22.7%
- Charity Jackpots: 11.6% Participation
- Horse racing: 11.5%
- 8.3% of respondents said they had never gambled and a further 5.5% identified themselves as occasional players of unregulated games of chance.
Casinos can be found in all metropolitan areas in South Africa. Think in particular of the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town. The largest in the country is the Rio Casino Resort, which is also the largest casino in Africa and the fifth-largest casino in the world.
The main casinos
South Africa is now home to some fun and entertaining casinos, each with its own gambling experience. The most popular South African casinos are the following:
- Sun City: Located a few hours outside of Johannesburg, this popular holiday destination offers a wide variety of casino games suitable for all types of players. The offer is rich: from slots to table games, such as blackjack, punto banco, and American roulette. For players seeking higher stakes and special benefits, Sun City’s Most Valued Guest program gives high rollers access to Sun City Salon Privé and VIP gaming.
- The Boardwalk Casino: The windswept city of Port Elizabeth is home to the Boardwalk Casino. There are over a hundred slot machines, as well as a wide variety of table games such as American roulette, blackjack, poker, and baccarat. The Boardwalk also has private casino games for the high rollers belonging to the Gold and Platinum MVG club. Test your luck and spend some time in the many bars and restaurants, or treat yourself to a spa day.
- Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World: The Suncoast Casino in Durban combines the thrill of the casino floor with the relaxing feel of a beach holiday. South African players can choose from over 1600 slot machines and 66 traditional table games. You can also see the local sights and relax on Durban beach.
- Resort: This casino in Klerksdorp is smaller in area than the Crown Melbourne in Australia, but the actual casino area is again larger than its Australian counterpart. Although there is sometimes some discussion about who is bigger, this casino resort is without a doubt the largest casino in the African continent. Incidentally, the atmosphere is slightly more Brazilian than African. Not too bad with a name like that.