Is it Safe for Tourists to Gamble in South Africa?

South Africa has really opened up to tourists in the last few decades. Apart from a slight dip in 2015, tourist numbers visiting South Africa have been on a steady rise for the last decade.

According to Statista, it is forecast that there will be 19.6 million tourists in 2024. This is welcome news to a tourist industry that has been taken apart by the pandemic.

The country has much to offer with great food, wine, and scenery that will take your breath away. For the adrenaline junkies, there is the Bloukrans Bungee Jump, and for the more laid back, Knysna on the Garden Route awaits.

Despite having so much beauty and options, South Africa has always been synonymous with two activities; safaris, and casinos. For many, the chance to spot the Big Five, and gamble at Sun City, was the ideal holiday.

But what is the state of gambling in South Africa now, and is it safe for tourists to do so?

What is the history of casinos and betting in South Africa?


Traditionally, gambling has been largely an illegal activity in the country. There have been hundreds of illegal casinos and bookmakers making their trade for decades.

In 1965 there was an attempt to put an end to all of this illegality. The Gambling Act of that year effectively put an end to any kind of betting. The only activity that was allowed was gambling on horse racing. Which for some reason appears to be okay with many countries that ban gambling in general.

However, illegal gambling continued and thrived. Many people like to gamble, and this is why it is an industry that creates billions of dollars across the world.

In the 1970s, casinos appeared and operated in what is known as the homelands. Areas such as the Transkei and Bophuthatswana, legally had casinos running. This is where the fame of Sun City began.

In 1994, everything changed though, and gambling became legal.

What is the state of gambling in South Africa today?

Between 1994 and 1996, big changes occurred to the gambling laws in South Africa. Nearly every form of gambling was sanctioned, casinos were allowed, and a national lottery was launched.

Over the years there have been amendments to keep up with advances in technology and changes in how people gamble. The National Gambling Act 7 of 2004 repealed the 1996 legislation. This was further amended in 2010.

As online gambling has entered, it has become necessary to make updates to previous acts. Now, gambling in South Africa is a legal activity, and while there are certainly illegal operators there is no need to use them.

What types of gambling are legal?


In a similar vein to the UK, nearly any type of gambling is now available to South Africans. If you wanted to visit a casino online in South Africa then you would have plenty of choices, and it would be perfectly legal.

Likewise, slots, casinos, sports betting, the lottery, and even bingo, are available for gamblers to enjoy. Read more on

No one has to trek far to find a casino either. Cape Town and other major cities have their own casino hotels and resorts now, and while Sun City still draws tourists, it isn’t the only option.

Can a tourist safely gamble in South Africa?

It is hoped that more and more people will experience everything that South Africa has to offer in the future. For gambling travelers, of course, that may mean casinos over safaris.

It is critical to understand local laws when traveling, especially if you are planning to do something that is still banned in many countries.

There are often different laws for tourists than there are for citizens of a country. For instance, in some Southeast Asian countries, non-native individuals are not allowed to live with citizens of the country unless married. This doesn’t apply to two natural-born residents.

Therefore, it is always a good idea to check up on local legislation before acting as you would at home.

Fortunately, the gambling laws in South Africa favor tourists. All land-based gambling activities are available to tourists, and this includes the national lottery.

Does this include online casinos?


In many countries and some states in the USA, gambling online is illegal. However, in South Africa, there are legal online casinos and bookmakers.

There is no need to look for an offshore casino as it is perfectly legal for an online casino to operate within the country. You, as a tourist, can choose to either use your favorite offshore casino, or one of the existing South African operations. All perfectly legal.

Where are the safest places to gamble in South Africa?

You will obviously want to know the best South African casinos for the gambling traveler if you are flying in. In the past, this would generally mean heading to somewhere such as Sin City. Now though, there is a world of choice.

Cape Town has many casinos you can visit, and is a generally safe area for tourists too. The most crucial consideration when searching for somewhere to gamble is that it is a legal establishment.

Casino resorts are a great option for the holidaying gambler as they can cater to whole families, as well as solo travelers. Alternatively, just use an online casino from the comfort of your hotel suite or by the pool.

To make online casinos safer, remember to use a VPN, this is especially true if you are using public WiFi.



Gambling in South Africa is perfectly legal and safe for a tourist. The laws over the years have changed to allow anyone to engage in these activities and games without recourse.

Before you travel though, you should check for any current restrictions. Just a few months ago there was another lockdown due to Covid that affected casinos.

Don’t worry though. Even if the casinos are locked down, there is a surplus of things to see and do in beautiful SA. And, you can always play your favorite games such as poker and roulette online with no problem at all.

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