Sports betting in South Africa is a relatively modern phenomenon due to the legal restrictions which had previously been in place. But there is now a host of markets you can bet on. Let’s look at the History of sports betting in South Africa.

Certainly in the past couple of decades, sports betting in Africa has flourished, with Nigeria and Kenya also becoming emerging markets, particularly online.

But it is in South Africa where the most money is wagered on sports betting. There is also a fascinating history behind it, especially given the limits on other forms of gambling.

History of sports betting in South Africa

   by  Craig Boyd 

There have always been strong restrictions on gambling in History of sports betting in South Africa over centuries and not just in recent times. During the era of apartheid, the Gambling Act of 1965 actually prohibited all forms of gambling in South Africa. The only exception to this was horse racing, which has always been perceived a little differently.

This is primarily because horse racing was viewed as a sporting activity, as opposed to a purely gambling activity for almost 30 years. This was only the legal means of being able to bet on any form of sport in South Africa.

However, with the end of apartheid and the election of a new democratic government in 1994, there subsequently emerged new laws and regulations regarding sports betting in South Africa. But physically going to the racetrack was still the only way you could legally gamble until 1996, when online sports betting was just starting to make inroads into the gambling industry.

The regulation of the sports betting industry is overseen by the different provinces in South Africa. There are nine provinces in the country and each has its own gambling and racing board which hands out licences to land-based or online bookmakers. There are more than 400 betting shops and more than 300 sportsbooks in South Africa.

It is very much worth pointing out that betting on poker and casino games online in South Africa is still illegal. Therefore, the only way you can gamble online in the country is if it is sports betting and a licence has been granted by a province’s gambling and racing board. It does not matter, though, which province you are based in when it comes to using a particular regulated bookmaker.

Sports betting has been increasing in popularity immensely in recent years, especially when you compare it to horse racing, which still retains a majority market share, but has not been rising in numbers in anything like the same percentages as sports betting.

One reason which could help to explain why online sports betting in History of sports betting in South Africa is growing at such an exponential rate, especially compared to horse racing, is the lack of tax which must be paid. Land-based bookmakers have taxes to pay, which will vary from province to province, while any winnings from horse racing are subject to a six per cent tax in the form of VAT. However, any winnings from sports betting or horse racing gambling are not subject to any income tax.

Also, South Africans enjoy betting on their national teams in sports such as rugby and football. There is also a strong interest in American-based sports like American Football, basketball and ice hockey.

Speaking of History of sports betting in South Africa, Back in 2012, it was estimated that the online sports betting industry was worth 660 million Rand (£35.7m). It was also predicted that, by last year, it would rise to 800 million Rand (£43.3m). That seems certain to keep on rising given the love of betting on sports in South Africa as the country maintains its dominant position on the continent, despite the rising numbers of gamblers in Nigeria and Kenya.

Described as a ‘vibrant and exciting’ industry, sports betting looks certain to maintain some level of growth even during economically difficult times.