Known as the Rainbow Nation, South Africa holds striking natural beauty and cultural diversity. Like any other country, its citizens also dabble in sports gambling. Read on and know what South Africa offers in gambling.

Legality of Gambling in South Africa

Like other countries, the South African government had a tumultuous journey with gambling. Initially, gambling was limited and controlled since 1673. South Africa’s Gambling Act of 1965 forbade any gambling activities except for horse racing betting. The government back then saw that it was a sports activity, deeming it as an exception.

When a new democratic government rose in 1994, all forms of gambling could operate. However, in 1996, the National Gambling Act created a licensed casino system and formed a national lottery. It recognized horse racing betting as a gambling activity and created the National Gambling Board. The Act made provisions to control gambling activities in the country and set guidelines and rules.

In 2004, the National Gambling Act of 2004 repealed its predecessor. Consequently, the National Gambling Amendment Act was instituted in 2008. The amendment seeks to legalize interactive gambling, which the 2004 National Gambling Act prohibited. However, land-based casinos and anti-money laundering authorities were against it; thus, the Act stayed in writing.

Since then, online gambling has become illegal in South Africa, but there are some exceptions. Only horse racing and online sports betting that are provincial-licensed can operate. Online sports books and race books require having licenses issued by their respective provinces like the provincial gambling board.

5 Sports South Africans Bet On The Most

Like most cultures, South Africans are fond of sports and betting. If you’re wondering what sports they bet on, you’re in luck. Here is the top five sports South Africans bet on the most:


Football, or soccer for some, is the most liked sport by South Africans. The sport first arrived and was introduced by the British soldiers in the late 19th century. At first, there was racial segregation because of apartheid, which resulted in four different football associations list below:

  • Football Association of South Africa (SAFA)—it is an all-white football league created in 1892.
  • South African Indian Football Association (SAIFA)—this league was founded in 1903 in Kimberley.
  • South African Bantu Football Association (SABFA)—was formed in 1933.
  • South African Coloured Football Association (SACFA)—was established in 1936.

Today, the South African Football Association (SAFA) governs all the national teams and most of the leagues in South Africa. Football betting revolves around the two foremost leagues, National First Division (NFD) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL). SAFA does not control them, but the National Soccer League does.

The two leagues comprise 16 different teams. Currently, the Mamelodi Sundowns are the reigning winners for PSL, while the Moroka Swallows won the National First Division.


In 1962, Canon George Ogilvie officially introduced rugby to South Africa. A match between the Army and the Civil service held in Cape Town started the rugby craze in South Africa. However, because of apartheid, all-white teams only played the match. Although colored and black populations enjoyed playing the sport, they were segregated.

The apartheid led to the international shunning of South African’s national rugby team, Springboks, in the 60s. The team rejoined the international scene in 1992, when the apartheid was then currently being abolished.

Rugby betting is a big scene in South Africa, circling international and local matches. South African Rugby Union (SARU) governs the rugby scene in South Africa and the country’s national team.

Domestically, South Africans await the Currie Cup tournament every June. It showcases the different rugby teams in each province and regions within provinces.


Cricket is the second most beloved sport by South Africans. Their love for the game came from its long history with the country. The sport first came to the country when the Napoleonic Wars broke and was heavily influenced by the British. The first cricket match ever recorded was in 1808 by two service teams in Cape Town.

Cricket betting revolves around the international and local scene and focusing more on professional games. Cricket South Africa, or CSA, currently presides over amateur and professional cricket in the country. It manages all three levels of cricket for both men, women, and the youth. These levels are:

  • Test matches (or simply Test)
  • One-Day Internationals (ODI)
  • Twenty20 Internationals (T20I)

The association has successfully made some cricket legends, especially in ODI, like Jacques Kallis, Jimmy Cook, and Andrew Hudson. Fun fact, the country belongs to a select few globally that can play test cricket. It is a variation of the game but with a longer playtime.


Historically, one of the oldest sports in the book is athletics. We can trace it back to ancient Greece, where the Olympics originated. Some may not know this one, but South Africans know this by heart. The sport encompasses different sports events that involve walking, throwing, running, and jumping.

Athletics betting in South Africa primarily moves around the international scene. However, this fact does not deny there are no athletic matches domestically. It’s simply putting bettors in the right place, which are the international matches.

The national governing body overseeing any athletics matches in the country is Athletics South Africa (ASA). The body is recognized by the World Athletics and has joined the Confederation of African Athletics. There are 17 affiliate members of ASA, spread in South African provinces and regions. It also has six associate members, including the Disability Sport South Africa (DISSA), which joins the Paralympics.


Who would’ve thought that basketball would come last on this list? Still, basketball is one of the sports South Africans bet on. Although there was no exact date when basketball arrived in the rainbow nation, the youth highly favored it.

The country has its basketball association called Basketball South Africa or BSA. It oversees every game for men’s and women’s basketball in the country. BSA only governs the national teams that will compete internationally. The association is a member of FIBA Africa but hasn’t yet qualified for the FIBA World Cup. It joined in 1992, making it the youngest member of the association.

BSA has three teams for both men’s and women’s basketball, they are:

  • National basketball team
  • National under-19 basketball team
  • National under-17 basketball team

Locally, South Africans have the Basketball National League (BNL), the leading professional men’s basketball league. The association has been around for 28 years and has accumulated ten clubs.

Basketball betting, unfortunately, has little to do with the BSA or BNL. Most South Africans bet on basketball games from different countries, notably NBA and men’s EuroLeague.

South Africans are hooked on placing bets on their preferred sports. They enjoy the thrill that games of luck bring. If you’re visiting South Africa, make sure you’re aware of the policies and sports you can bet on.

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