How to Start an Online Casino in South Africa


Starting an online casino tailored to meet the specific needs of South African players demands in-depth research and careful planning. Are there significant opportunities for growth within the market? What is the current legal landscape for gambling? Which local customs and preferences should you consider to make your online casino appealing to South African players? These are all crucial questions that need addressing.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors critical for success and offer practical tips for seasoned iGaming operators considering entry into the South African online gambling sector.

Is Online Gambling Legal in South Africa?

Gambling in South Africa has always faced certain restrictions, and from 1965 until 1994, it was completely illegal. Only in 1996, after the change of the government and the passing of the National Gambling Act that same year, land-based casinos became legalised.

Whilst the legality of online casino gambling in South Africa remains complex – with most traditional online casino games prohibited – resourceful operators have adapted innovatively to comply with existing sports betting regulations in place. 

This has been achieved through offering ‘numbers-style draw games’ to emulate classic casino experiences like slots, roulette, and, most recently, crash games. Offered only via licensed iGaming platforms, these games are more akin to ‘betting events’, helping to align them with the current South African sports betting laws.

This legal landscape may evolve, however, as proposed bills from 2018, 2022, and 2024 all aim to establish a dedicated regulatory framework for online gambling in South Africa.

Overview of the South African Gambling Market

The South African gambling market has seen remarkable progress since the National Gambling Act of 1996 paved the way for legal, licensed casinos across the country, as well as a single, national lottery. According to statistics from the National Gambling Board (NGB), the overall South African gambling market generated an impressive EUR 2.3bn in Gross Gambling Revenue (GGR) for the financial year 2022/2023, representing a staggering 36.9% year-over-year increase.

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Included in this overall figure, the online gambling sector has itself seen unprecedented growth in South Africa, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent projections indicate that the country’s online gambling market is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.18% from 2024-2028, resulting in a projected market volume of around EUR 64m by the end of 2028.

Driving this online gambling boom is the widespread adoption of smartphones and increased affordability of mobile data plans, empowering more South Africans to easily access iGaming platforms. Another less-considered factor further fuelling this growing trend is South Africa’s periodic electricity outages or ‘load-shedding’; a practice which has inadvertently raised awareness of online casinos as an alternative entertainment option during the country’s frequent power cuts.

Licensing an Online Casino in South Africa

One significant challenge for operators looking to start an online casino in South Africa is navigating the distinct gambling regulations and licensing across the country’s nine provinces. Although overseen by the NGB, each region has its own independent licensing authority, requiring operators to have a thorough understanding of the nuances and requirements within each provincial jurisdiction. 

Efforts towards ‘harmonisation’ – creating uniform licensing for online casinos in South Africa – have progressed slowly, underscoring the importance of regulatory agility for operators looking to enter the market. 

It’s also important to point out the presence of numerous casinos operating from offshore locations with gaming licences from other jurisdictions accepting local players. Whilst this practice is technically illegal under South African online gambling laws, enforcement has been lax, with very few instances of prosecution or active blocking of online gaming sites that accept South African players.

Although ill-advised, new operators entering the South African market can choose to obtain a licence from another reputable jurisdiction, such as Curaçao or Malta. Many local South African players willing to use offshore iGaming platforms are well-educated and typically seek out licensed platforms as a mark of credibility and security – ensuring that their interests are protected and the games are certified by a corresponding authority.


Preferred Payment Methods for South African Casinos

When South African players join online casinos, the majority prefer using their credit or debit cards to deposit funds into their accounts. However, a significant number also opt for alternative payment methods such as Neteller and Skrill e-wallets or prepaid cards like EcoCard. To accommodate the diverse preferences of all player segments, it’s crucial for iGaming operators to offer a broad range of payment options.

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Additionally, supporting the South African Rand (ZAR) as a currency is essential. Many players prioritise the convenience of transacting in their local currency to avoid the complexities of currency conversion. By enabling players to view their balances and winnings in ZAR, operators can provide a transparent and reassuring user experience, ensuring players have a clear understanding of their financial transactions.

Using Cryptocurrencies in South African Casinos

When talking about giving players ways to pay and play online, it’s highly advisable for operators to also consider including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as alternative payment methods. Their rising popularity among South African online gamblers looking for secure and efficient digital transaction options makes them a valuable addition to any operator’s payment arsenal.

Language Options for Online Casinos in South Africa

South Africa boasts 11 official languages, highlighting the country’s rich cultural diversity. Whilst English is widely understood across the country, serving as a common medium of communication, integrating additional languages into your online casino can significantly enhance the player experience.

It’s particularly beneficial to consider adding Afrikaans, the first language of many South Africans, to your iGaming platform. Making your website bilingual, or even multilingual, helps show respect for the local culture and can increase accessibility, encouraging broader participation from South African players.

Casino Game Preferences in South Africa

Curating an engaging game portfolio is key for operators in the South African market. Whilst traditional favourites like slots, blackjack, and poker still hold their appeal with certain demographics, a noticeable shift is currently underway.

South African players are increasingly gravitating towards simple, fast-paced games that offer instant gratification through straightforward mechanics – the soaring popularity of ‘crash games’ like Aviator (produced by Spribe) is a prime example. At the same time, the allure of progressive jackpot games also continues, providing a captivating experience for those chasing larger payouts.

For operators managing a busy schedule, a game aggregator can streamline the process of integrating a huge range of gaming content from multiple vendors at once. This helps to save time whilst ensuring a varied, appealing game library from the get-go.


Effective Marketing Strategies for South African Online Casinos

Given the specific national policies limiting online gambling advertising, traditional channels like direct advertising and Google Ads are, unfortunately, not viable options for marketing an online casino in South Africa. This means that iGaming operators need to think outside the box for local player acquisition.

Exploring affiliate partnerships and leveraging reviews made by reputable digital gambling resources can be effective alternatives for operators. These methods enable operators to reach potential players without violating online gambling regulations in South Africa.

Additionally, placing a strong focus on responsible gambling practices can also foster player trust and loyalty – an investment that pays dividends in establishing your platform’s reputation. Trust is a major factor for South African players, and showing a commitment to player safety allows you to distinguish your platform in South Africa’s highly-competitive market.

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Choosing the Right iGaming Software Provider for South Africa

To successfully launch an online casino that targets the South African market or any other market, addressing technical matters is fundamental. Finding the right service provider is key to avoiding unnecessary complications, allowing you to focus more on promotion and marketing. Here are the key points to consider when choosing your technical partner: 

    1. Software: Opt for a platform that’s safe, secure, and stable under high loads. It’s always best to choose certified casino software developed by a reputable company with several years of market experience. The software should also be able to support multiple languages and payment options, including Bitcoin, if possible. Familiarise yourself with the admin panel to ensure it meets your needs for bonus settings, player management, payment processing, etc.
    2. Games: Find out how many games are included in the package. Some providers offer game aggregation software that includes a diverse selection from various game studios, giving you a huge range of choices in one place.
    3. Legal Support and Financial Infrastructure: Navigating the complexities of obtaining a gaming licence is a significant step for casino operators, and for those ready to undertake this task, a standalone turnkey casino solution can offer substantial benefits. Often also providing robust financial infrastructure and operational control, it empowers you to run and manage your online casino with a high degree of customisation and autonomy.

With thorough research, the right software in place, and a solid marketing strategy, you’ll be well-prepared to launch your online casino and compete in the South African iGaming market.

Planning Your Next Steps in South African iGaming

To secure a successful foothold as an iGaming business in South Africa, operators need to stay up to date with the legal requirements and evolving player preferences. For an in-depth exploration of this opportunity-rich emerging market, including South Africa casino market trends and strategic guidance, check out our extensive SOFTSWISS market report, iGaming in South Africa, now available for download.

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