/ 29 May 2023

How popular is gambling in South Africa?


Slots are very popular at land-based casinos, but online gambling is on the rise

Gambling is a popular pastime all over the world and one that’s been practised for thousands of years. Whether it’s betting on sports or playing casino games, the opportunity to potentially win real cash draws a lot of people in. Across South Africa, gambling has become a huge industry, with land-based and online casinos and betting sites proving to be extremely popular.

Current statistics on how many South Africans gamble show that around 10% of the country’s population partake in some form of regular gambling. According to a study, the vast majority of these gamblers play the National Lottery. However, a growing number of South Africans are also getting involved in sports betting and casino gaming. Online casinos in South Africa have seen a significant increase in the number of people playing.

Gambling growth in South Africa

For the financial year between 2021 and 2022, South Africa’s gambling industry saw total gambling revenue worth R34 billion, a 48% increase from the previous year. The Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns affected the casino industry across the country, but in the years that have followed, there’s been a clear boom in the amount being spent at casinos.

South Africa is now home to 38 land-based casinos, the majority of which are owned by three major companies. After a slump in 2020 and 2021, these casinos have seen an increase in the number of players. Casino gaming has been legal in South Africa since 1994, and these casinos help attract tourists from all over the country and across the world.

Land-based gaming remains the most popular way to gamble outside of the lottery, with slot machines being the source of the majority of casino revenue. Around 76% of South African casino revenue comes from slots — these are often the most popular choices for players. Slots are popular thanks to the low cost to play and the potential to win big from every spin.

The rise of online gambling

While most players prefer land-based casinos, online gambling is quickly becoming a favourite for many. Compared to traditional gaming, online casinos offer greater variety, more convenience, and more fun, with loads of licensed and safe sites to choose from. It’s easy to see why more players are signing up to use these sites then, especially since they’re accessible on mobile.

Being able to sign up and play on mobiles is one of the main reasons why online gaming is becoming more popular than ever in South Africa. Between 20 and 22 million people, around a third of the population, own a smartphone. Mobile apps are easier and more accessible to use, and with so many of the country’s population being able to play, there’s little doubt that more people will continue to use online casinos.

The future of online gambling in South Africa

South Africa’s gambling industry has seen a strong bounce back from the issues caused by the global pandemic, and casino revenues are higher than ever. However, land-based casino operators are beginning to experience competition from online gaming platforms. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s clear that online casinos are easier to use.

It’s possible that we’ll see land-based casinos do more to attract players, including offering comp deals and better experiences. However, these places will always continue to do well off tourists and people who enjoy a night out. 

Meanwhile, online casinos in South Africa fulfil a different kind of niche, providing exciting games that can be enjoyed from anywhere. Advancements in technology will help these sites to deliver an even better experience while still being highly convenient and easy to use.