South African Casinos Struggling to Keep Pace with Online Competition

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The Unstoppable Rise Of The Online Casino
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

As a country with a long and storied history with gambling regulations, South Africa is no stranger to change. Despite finding historical success in brick-and-mortar casino locations, recent challenges via online avenues threaten the status quo. Combined with an increasingly online public, the next few years of the physical casino industry within SA could be the most challenging yet.

Gambling Laws in South Africa

The very first gambling laws in South Africa date back to 1673. For hundreds of years, the restrictions put in place here prohibited all forms of gambling, though this was often not strictly enforced on smaller scales. It wasn’t until 1965 that these laws were updated with the arrival of South Africa’s Gambling Act.

The Unstoppable Rise Of The Online Casino
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

This act updated and clarified existing laws, making it fully illegal for any form of betting save for betting on horse racing. Classified as a sports activity, the legacy of horse racing within the nation was enough for it to overcome the restrictions placed on other arms of industry. These laws were not strictly followed, however, where many illegal casinos appeared in the later decades.

horses racing” (CC BY 2.0) by rogerblake2

The next real change came in 1996 with the arrival of the National Gambling Act. This act combined many different gambling businesses under the umbrella of the lottery, even go so far as to reclassify horse betting as gambling. Over the next few years, the act proved immensely successful, with many legal casinos finding mainstream success.

Following the year 2000, the new National Gambling Act was introduced in 2004, where it was eventually amended by the 2008 National Gambling Amendment Act. These later acts updated many laws to account for digital changes and even went so far as to ban some forms of online gambling. Essentially, only horse racing and sports betting were legal to online players in SA, and this still applies today.

The Online Advantage

Even bound by restrictions, the advantages of online casinos proved too enticing for the public. These systems leveraged online opportunities that didn’t exist in the physical market to give themselves the edge. This includes bonuses like deposit matches, increased convenience mobile integration, and much more. PlayCasino.co.za an overview of these things, and together it gives the user an experience beyond the sum of its parts.

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Together, these aspects each proved more than the sum of their parts, to the point where physical casinos could be soon facing some harsh realities. As an illustration of this, consider the component of distance alone. While there are many casinos in SA, travelling to one incurs delays, cost, travel, and adhering to a dress code.

The same experience at home with digital casinos involves none of these things, which makes the online market’s success that much is easier to understand.

Regulation Key” (CC BY 2.0) by CreditDebitPro

Bridging the Gap

The success of online casinos does bring to question how the future of SA’s gambling sector will cope. According to the current trajectory, physical casinos and their tax revenue is diminishing, while the more limited in scope online options still thrive.

From an economic standpoint, this could validate an expansion of the scope of online services, so that the government might benefit more from the new generation of digital gaming. As for when or even if this could occur, that much remains to be seen. If nothing changes, expect the market share of land-based casinos to continue to struggle.