While online gambling in South Africa remains illegal, there has been a proliferation in recent years of Web sites that offer such services. However, few South Africans realise that by using these sites, they too are breaking the law and could face prosecution.

In South Africa the legislation is clear, says Tasoulla Hadjigeorgiou, CEO of LottoStar: Section 11 of the National Gambling Act states: A person must not engage in or make available an interactive game except as authorised in terms of this Act or any other national law.

Hadjigeorgiou adds that there are certain exceptions for bookmakers who are authorised to use online platforms. “Any legal bookmaker, offering sports and fixed odds betting, who has an issued licence from a provincial gambling board has the right to operate an online site as well.

“The fact is that many of the Web sites that South African consumers are using simply do not comply with this law, which means that the gamers making use of these services could face prosecution themselves.”

The Casino Association of South Africa (CASA) states that much of the illegal online gambling activity is being run from Internet cafes and places known as ‘entertainment lounges’ which the association says are mushrooming in South Africa.

“The concept behind these illegal gambling establishments is that they offer access to online gambling platforms which are outside of South Africa, as many sites offer the ability to transact in South African currency,” adds Hadjigeorgiou.

PwC reported that gross land-based casino gambling revenues totalled R16,5-billion in South Africa in 2013. CASA estimates that 5% of all gambling spend is being channelled towards illegal online gambling.