Gambling has always had a difficult time under British law in any of its colonies and South Africa was no different. Horse racing was pretty well the only form of gambling that was deemed acceptable back in 1673 and it stayed that way until the 20th century. And even well past the first half of the 20th century horse racing was still the only form of legal gambling within its borders. In 1965 the Gambling Act came into effect which just made it official. It wasn’t until 1994 that things began to change with the government’s blessing.
In the 1970s illegal casinos began operating within the Bantustans which were native areas within South Africa. These were not patronized by the white citizens. They had to wait until 1994 when all forms of gambling were legalized by the government. Strangely horse racing suffered under the new laws as South Africans looked elsewhere for their wagering fun and that was the state lotteries.
The government figured out in 1995 that there were well over 2000 illegal casinos doing business in South Africa and something needed to be done about that because we all know how governments seriously insist on controlling thing that make a lot of money. Note – Online Casinos have been a gray area but they represent a growing part of the gaming culture.
So in 1996 the National Gambling Act took effect in an effort to rein in the illegal activities and to ensure that the government got its fair share of the profits. To start with the setup a licensing system for the casinos and a single state run lottery were started. The act also regulated gambling, the licensing of casinos and the running of the lottery throughout the land to standardize things.
As of 2006 the single most successful form of gambling in South Africa was the state National Lottery which had almost 90% of the people involved, at 5 million transactions per week and along with casino monies brought in R13.5 billion in revenues. But by 2004 with the explosion of internet based interactive gambling meant that the National gambling Act had to be amended yet again. And that meant the prohibition of most forms of online gambling. You see in South Africa they had strong lobbyists who fought to keep online gambling illegal in order to protect the land based casinos and to stop the laundering of money by criminals. So the only form of wagering allowed online was and currently is horse race betting and sports betting.
As of 2010 it was still illegal to operate online gambling even from servers based outside of the country or via the media like TV. And it may be some time before it will be legal as long as the brick & mortar casinos have strong, powerful lobbyists working for them.