Online Gambling Laws and the history of Online Casinos in South Africa

The Early Beginnings

The first online gambling sites started to appear in the middle of the 1990's. It all started when Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act. This resulted in several companies opening the way to online casinos. At the same time, an online gambling development company was founded. Microgaming was the first company that started developing revolutionary online gambling software. The company is still in the business and continues to create online gambling innovations and trusted software across several gambling platforms such as casino, poker, sports betting, bingo and mobile. Microgaming also joined forces with Cryptologic in order to create secure and safe online financial transactions.

The Explosion of Online Gambling

The next milestone in the history of online gambling was the establishment of the gaming commission in Kahnawake, Canada. This was a commission led by Mohawk Indian tribes founded to give out gaming licenses to operators. The same year the first online casino opened its virtual doors. In the late 1990's, online gambling started to explode and by the end of 1996 there were about 15 virtual gambling websites in operation. By 1997, the number climbed to 200. Revenues from online gambling also started to increase. In 1998, they reached over $830 million.

The World's First Online Casinos

There are reports that state that the world's first ever online casino opened in 1995. It was the Gaming Club launched by Microgaming. However, other reports say that the first virtual casino is in fact InterCasino that opened in 1996. This casino was launched by Cryptologic. Nevertheless, these two casinos were the first to hit the ground running and many more soon followed.

Nowadays, not only can they play casino games on the Internet, but casino fans can also play live dealer table games in real time as well as gamble on the go via their smart phones and tablets. The mobile casino gaming industry in particular is growing at a fast pace and new innovations are regularly introduced.

Online Sportsbooks - the Next Development

Not only do people love to play online casino games, but they also love to bet on sports. Therefore, the first online sportsbook, Intertops, opened in 1996. The sportsbook was very successful and many other online sports betting websites started to appear. In the early days, these sites were offering many bonuses to their players ranging from cash back offers to special odds. As this gambling department matured, the big offer of bonuses and promotions decreased, but there are still some online sportsbooks that offer free bets and other types of promotions.

Another trend that appeared in 2000 in online sports betting was peer to peer betting. This was possible on BetFair and the site collected a commission for each of these bets. This type of betting was the forerunner of exchange betting which is quite popular nowadays.

Furthermore, live betting or in play betting also appeared in 2002. This allowed bettors to bet on their favorite sports events in real time. Soon afterwards mobile sports betting appeared and nowadays bettors can use thir mobile devices to bet on sports.

The Beginnings of Online Poker

The first website to offer online poker was Planet Poker in 1998. However, the site had many technical problems and people were still using dial up Internet services which created many issues. Afterwards, Paradise Poker was launched in 1999. The tech and platform problems were a lot more advanced by then and it provided for a greater stability. The site also offered a number of Omaha games and added Seven Card Stud. The first online poker site to offer online tournaments was Poker Spot in 2001, but it has many payment processing problems, which led to its closure in 2001.

In 2001, Poker Stars and Party Poker were established and they soon became one of the best online poker sites. The former website ever launched the first World Championship of Online Poker, while the later started hosting tournaments that offered qualification to live events.

The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for online gambling was the introduction of UIGEA in 2006 in the United States. The act forbids financial institutions to process payments to online gambling sites. This caused many gambling websites to stop offering their products and services in America. However, some poker sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker continued to welcome US players, but the US government seized their domain names on April 15th. This day is known as Black Friday.

What other laws are in place regarding online gambling

Most UK and European online gambling sites blocked US customers, and only some offshore sites continue to allow US residents to gamble online for real money.

Today some individual US states have legalized and regulated online gambling and the future is looking a lot brighter. More states are expected soon to follow.

A South African Perspective

Not only were South Africans some of the early adopters of online gambling, but many gambling companies founded by South Africans have flourished over the years.

Most notable is Microgaming and many of the operators that license its software. The company was founded in Durban in the late nineties and has become one of the dominant forces in online gambling, with many of the biggest brands using the software. Microgaming still performs most of its software development in South Africa, and have decided as a result that South African gamblers cannot play at any of their licensed casinos.

Online Gambling FAQ's

How are we protected when gambling online?

For the most part though, South African online gamblers have pretty much had free reign where the could play, until the introduction of the new gambling bill last year, which for the first time expressly prohibited citizens from gambling online at "illegal" sites.

How do I know I am gambling using online casinos safely?

Many of the UK and European Sportsbooks have blocked South African players.

Online Casino Guide

In the remainder of this article, we look at the options open to South Africans in various forms of online gambling.

South African Sports Betting

The Western Cape Gambling Board now licenses a number of sportsbooks, under somewhat onerous conditions. For instance, they are not allowed to offer incentives like bonuses. Many South African sports bettors therefore still prefer offshore Sportsbooks where they believe that they get better value.

South African Online Casinos

This remains a gray area. Although there were a number of the bigger online casinos brands that reacted to the new legislation by closing South African betting accounts, a great many still continue to offer their services.

Online Gambling Support

Casino gamblers can play in Rands, and often make transfers instantly from South African bank accounts.  It remains to be seen if the government takes any further steps to curtail this for of online gambling.

Online Gambling Help

Players have great choice, with casinos that offer games from leading providers like Playtech and Realtime Gaming.

South African Online Lotto

In addition to buying lotto tickets online for the South African lottery products including Powerball. Players can participate in the biggest global lotteries like the UK Lottery and Euro Millions by purchasing tickets online, and many people do.

You can play the South African Lotto here.

South African Online Poker

As with Sportsbooks and casinos that have decided to block South African players, many poker rooms followed suit. However, there is still an impressive variety of poker rooms South Africans frequent.

The Big Picture

Despite the legal hurdles, online gambling continues to be popular worldwide. Gambling websites have entered many regulated markets and offer support to players in many languages. Moreover, they also accept a number of currencies making it easy for players to gamble using their local currency. The bottom line, virtual gambling is here to stay and players can play games or bet on sports online without any trouble.