Top 10 South African Poker Sites 2020 : For South African Players
South Africa has a rich poker scene and online poker is alive and more than well. Maybe you didn’t know, but poker pros like Raymond Rahme and other recognized players around the world actually come from South Africa. And get this, the second annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) was hosted in South Africa.
When you think of South Africa, the places that immediately spring to mind include Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. It’s probably not commonplace to really associate poker or any other sort of gambling with the country. And that’s probably with good reason, too. After all, it has been heavily restricted since the late 1600s.
In 1965, the Gambling Act of South Africa came into effect and that would officially ban all forms of gambling, with the sole exception being horse racing.
Despite this, the country does have a link with poker gameplay. But how does this happen when it’s considered to be an illegal act there?
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There have been certain areas of South Africa that have managed to skirt around the laws, though. For example, in the late 1970s, certain casinos began operating within the nominally independent areas of the country, known as bantustans.
These took up residence in the areas of Bophuthatswana, Transkei and a few others. In those locations, only native South Africans resided, so most citizens of the country couldn’t really access the casinos. However, over time, these illegal casinos grew in number, and by 1995, it was estimated that South Africa had over 2,000 of them in operation.
Things did change in 1994 when a new democratic government came into power. It was then that all forms of gambling were made legal. A set of licensed casinos were set up in 1996, which is when the National Gambling Act of the country became effective. A national lottery was also set up and horse racing (while remaining legal) became defined as a gambling activity rather than a sporting activity. Rules were brought in at the same time to keep gambling within the country as regulated as possible, and a decision was made for a total of 40 gambling licences to be made available to potential South African operators. Alongside the legal casinos and national lottery, other gambling games became available, including poker.
As of 2004, a new version of the National Gambling Act was brought into effect, repealing the 1996 version, and then in 2008, a further introduction came into play – the National Gambling Amendment Act. Unfortunately, the former of these Acts prohibited any operator from providing online gaming services, while making it illegal for residents of South Africa to access such as well. Therefore, online poker (along with online casino and bingo games) was made an illegal activity. The Amendment Act of 2008 was actually meant to try and legalise online interactive gaming. However, various parties confronted the introduction of this – including land-based establishments and anti-money laundering groups – meaning that it was never brought into effect with it.
To make things worse, South Africa introduced a law in 2010 that made accessing foreign-based interactive gambling websites an illegal action. Because of this, both offering online gambling services and participating in such, regardless of server location, became illegal in the country. The National Gambling Amendment Act of 2008 could come into effect at some point in the near future if the high court listens to appeals against the laws blocking interactive gambling. For now though, poker remains as an activity that is considered illegal in South Africa.
Is poker legal in South Africa
- Recommended South African Online Poker Rooms
- Is poker legal in South Africa
- Laws And Regulations In South Africa
- What to Look for in an Online South African Poker Room
- Am I Safe Depositing and Playing at an Online Poker Room from South Africa?
- Banking Options for South African Poker Players
- FAQs when playing poker in South Africa
South Africa has a long history of gambling restrictions. That history started changing several years ago when the legislators showed interested in changing the laws gradually in order to keep up with the industry and the needs of the citizens.
However, things are not that simple. It’s the trademark of South Africans to make things complicated and confusing, and so are the laws pertaining to online poker and online gambling.
Because the laws in South Africa regarding online poker are so stringent, it has become fairly difficult for citizens to engage in poker gameplay via the internet. Players can actually be prosecuted if they’re found to be participating in online poker or other forms of gambling.
Laws And Regulations In South Africa
With the 2004 National Gambling Act all online gambling activities were banned. However, in 2008 the government decided to relax a bit.
It realized that South Africans play at online casinos or poker sites anyway despite the ban, so it decided to cash in on it.
That year the National Gambling Amendment Act was introduced with the intention to raise the ban on the online gambling market.
However, some of the biggest land-based operators in South Africa started meddling and lobbying for the government to keep it banned. They hid behind anti-fraud protective agencies under the pretext that they are concerned about the wellbeing of South Africans.
In reality they were concerned about drops in their profit due to players going online, so online gambling was kept illegal. The ban was further hardened in 2010 when it was lobbied that international casino sites should be banned too.
That being said, South Africa still maintains a healthy enough poker scene (which takes place via land-based establishments). However, some online poker rooms also welcome South African players who have no qualms with bypassing the laws to access an offshore site. The best way of going about this is to make use of a VPN to disguise your ISP number. That way, you can access an online poker room, sign up and begin depositing so that you can enjoy poker at such platforms.
There are various platforms that will allow you to both deposit and play in South African rand as well, meaning that you’ll be able to utilise your native currency as a citizen. It’s good to continue hoping for a change to the laws in the near future – and hopefully, players won’t have to wait much longer for online poker to become readily available. However, for now, the only way to engage in the game is to utilise one of those foreign-based poker rooms. Just be sure that it holds a proper gambling licence before you register and deposit at such.
South Africa’s Governing Body For Poker
The agency responsible for oversight of the regulation in the gambling industry throughout South Africa is the National Gambling Board. According to the board, its aim is to preserve the integrity of the citizens as responsible.
If you fall victim to a fraud or corruption, you can report it to the Board. The National Gambling Board is also the agency where you have to go if you want to receive a gambling license to operate a land-based operation in South Africa.
What to Look for in an Online South African Poker Room
Every poker player is different, so what one gamer looks for may not necessarily be what others seek out. You need to find one that caters to you specifically – at least, as far as game selection, lobby layout, promotions and other features are concerned One thing that everybody should be on the look out for though, is a licensed poker site. If a poker room possesses a valid gambling licence from a reputable jurisdiction, then you’re off to a good start.
Furthermore, make sure that it supports a payment method that you feel comfortable using online. It’s no good becoming a member of a platform and then finding out that you can only make use of a Visa card to deposit if you’re not happy to insert your card details at an online site.
Don’t be blinded by the external layout or any promises of huge rewards for becoming a player at a site, either. After all, the external view of a poker platform does not dictate how it operates internally.
Just be sure that you’re playing at a recommended site. We’ve got a selection of them for you to browse through here, but even if you don’t want to visit one of the South African platforms that we recommend, read reviews from other people. Make sure they’re people that have played at the poker rooms and find out what the pros and cons of them are. See if there are any big problems that the site is having troubles with sorting out. Be sure that there aren’t any withdrawal issues or withholding of funds from players. If you do some proper research into South African online poker rooms beforehand, then you can’t go far wrong.
Am I Safe Depositing and Playing at an Online Poker Room from South Africa?
Understanding the South African laws can be quite the complex scenario at times, especially considering that they have changed so often since the start of the new millennium. Online poker gameplay of any kind is said to be completely illegal, though. And while no reports of South African players being arrested and convicted for such activities have come to light, some do say that you’re able to be punished for engaging in it.
However, the poker scene within South Africa remains as a popular pastime, with various gamblers taking it upon themselves to access foreign-based platforms. You can also indulge in poker this way too – you just need to be a bit more aware of the sites that you’re playing at, how you’re accessing them and the payment method that you’re using for depositing and withdrawing, too.
Your safety also depends upon the platform that you’re playing poker at, because some of them will definitely be out there to scam gamers. Make sure that you’re playing at a site with a reputable licence and regulations in place. This way, your money is a lot safer and you can guarantee that the poker room will be adhering to a set of rules regarding such. We have put together a collection of recommended South African poker rooms that you can navigate to and join. We have checked them out in full and written reviews on all of them. At least with these, you can also guarantee that they’re operating professionally and respectably.
Banking Options for South African Poker Players
Payment methods remain one of the main focal points of online gambling sites for many people. After all, once you complete your sign up, you’ll want to deposit and start playing poker straight away.
As with so many other things in South Africa relating to gambling, the laws do play quite the part in what methods are readily available to you to use.
While most online poker sites will accept deposits made through credit and debit cards, there’s always the potential there for your bank to block such transactions. You can try your Visa or Mastercard if you like, but should it not process through, you’ll need to look at alternatives.
The best alternative that you can use for depositing is to transact with a cryptocurrency. Whether that be Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Dash, Ethereum or any of the others, it doesn’t matter. If the online poker room accepts transactions via cryptocurrencies, then you’ll be able to make use of instant deposits and withdrawals, without any kind of central financial institution keeping a check on what you’re doing. Additionally, you won’t have to pay any additional fees on top of your deposits and withdrawals as far as the cryptocurrency is concerned. So, if you want something free and fast, cryptocurrencies are the way to go.
You could also try and utilise an e-wallet for deposit and withdrawal purposes, although again, it’s not always possible that these are made available for residents of South Africa. If you do possess a Neteller or Skrill wallet for example though, you can try to use it at your chosen online poker room. Just be wary of the fact that it may not be supported for players from within South Africa. While bank transfers may also be available to make use of, these are situated in the same vein as credit and debit cards. Because they’re connected specifically to a bank, the transaction may be blocked if it’s found to be going to an online gambling site.
FAQs when playing poker in South Africa
Now that we have clarified somewhat the legality of online poker in South Africa, in the following you will find answers to the five most frequently asked questions about South African poker sites.
Can I use South African Rands to play poker online?
We don’t say “South African poker sites” for nothing. They are not really South African because they operate overseas, but they implement all sorts of features to make South African poker players feel comfortable and welcomed. So, giving players the option to make deposits, withdrawals and wagers in Rands is one of those features.
What payment methods can South African poker players use?
Just like poker players from other countries in the world, South Africans can use the same payment methods as them such as credit and debit cards, wire transfer, or more convenient methods like Skrill, Neteller and PayPal among the many. All of these are industry-standard methods and you will find them at 90% of the poker sites.
Are there players online at South African peak hours?
Since online poker sites operate globally, expect to find enough poker players to play against during daytime or night in South Africa. People from all over the world gather to play poker online, and many of them are within the same time zone as South Africans. Even if they aren’t, there are always passionate poker players that play during off hours.
Can I use my mobile to play online poker?
Yes. If you register with those sites that are riding on the cutting edge of gaming technology, you will be able to play poker on your mobile through native or web-based apps.
Can I play poker at real-money sites for free?
If you are new to poker and don’t want to spend money immediately, but desperately want to try how it is to play at a real-money poker sites, you may want to look for freeroll tournaments. These are tournaments in which you can participate without paying an entrance fee. The best thing is that if you finish in the top spots you can get your share of the prize pool without spending a single Rand.