The dawn of legit online gambling in South Africa

By 23 January 2021

The South African online gambler can expect a flood of new casino operators in the local market over the next few months. These casinos will bring along a host of new game providers with a long list of casino games of all types and variants. The question that every online casino player will ask is: 'Are these new casinos legit?' This handy article will aim to make it easy for new and current online casino players to see which criteria an online casino must adhere to in order for it to be classified as a legit South African online casino offering fair gameplay in the ZAR currency.

The licensing aspects of the casino

The first and most important factor that will indicate the legitimacy of an online casinos is the casino's operating license. This license must be issued by an authoritative gaming regulatory body, such as the MGA, and will indicate that the casino meets the high standards to be able to operate in the South African market. These licenses are not easy to come by and are generally expensive. Evidence of the license should be publicly and prominently displayed in the footer of the casino's home page. Players are urged to confirm this and to further scrutinise the license if there is any doubt on the legitimacy of the issuing gaming authority.

In addition to the casino's operating gambling license, similar evidence should also be present of the legality of the casino's game providers, i.e. the companies that develop and provide casino games to the casino. Similar to the online casino, the game developer and provider should also be licensed to have his games consumed in a relevant market such as South Africa. Not only does the game provider need to be licensed but its games and the underlying random number generator should also adhere to certain standards and must regularly be vetted and audited to ensure that there has been no tampering or changes to the game code.


Evaluating the games

Legit casinos that have game providers that are transparent with their games' information should display the relevant licensing and auditing information in the information page of each game. The player does not have to be signed up or even have deposited with the casino to check this information out. Most transparent casinos will allow for their games to be available for free play so that players can do exactly this without taking on any financial risk. Information of the game's return to player percentage and the volatility should be accessible to the player so that he can make informed decisions about establishing a long-term relationship with the casino.

The number of providers and the amount of games that they offer through the casino must also be evaluated. Online casinos are businesses and in the game to make a profit. If the players are happy with the entertainment that the casino offers then there is the possibility that they will become long term paying customers with that casino. The numbers of game providers shows the player that the casino is committed to providing a variety of games. It will also stand the player in good stead to visit the provider's web page to see the depth of the offering, more technical game information and the frequency of new game releases.


The casino's financial operations

Another good and important factor for the payer to evaluate is the casino's financial support, and the deposit and withdrawal processes that they offer to bona fide players. Players need to be able to seamlessly and effortlessly make ZAR-based deposits into their gaming accounts should they choose to play for real money. Aspects to look out for here is whether the casino offers payment methods that are popular in South Africa and the variety thereof. These payment methods should include the full range from credit and debit cards (e.g. Visa and MasterCard), web wallets such as Neteller or Paypal, cyber currencies such as Bitcoin and others such as EFT.

Probably more important to the player than deposits is the withdrawal process. Players should be able to effortlessly withdrawal their winnings at a casino. Like wagering requirements, withdrawals are probably the most misunderstood by players and can be a source of disputes. Players should take time to investigate the withdrawal terms and conditions and see if there are any limits or fees imposed in this process. Typically making a withdrawal back to the player's deposit payment method is the quickest way of getting his money, so if the casino offers this option, then half the battle is won. If the payment terms and conditions are unclear then players should clarify this with customer support.

Other important factors

On the topic of customer support, this is very important for the player to scrutinise as this is typically the only 'human face' of an online casino in an industry fraught by anonymity. The casino should offer various communication channels of which the Chat functionality is the safest and quickest way to raise an issue or question. The chat icon should be visible and available throughout the casino site both on desktop and mobile. Backup channels such as email and telephone support should be available. This support should be provided in a player's preferred language and customer support staff should be knowledgeable, empathic and available on a 24/7 basis.

All these support aspects can be initiated and investigated from the casino's free play games pages. However, they will be pretty useless if the casino is not safe and secure. The casino should employ the latest in online security, such as secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to ensure that this player's financial and personal data is protected from hackers. Furthermore if there is a fair-play and responsible gambling certification by an authoritative industry body then it is further evidence that the casino will be more legit that one without these credentials. Building of trust is important for the South African gambler that has traditionally been burned by illegal gambling operators.

Let's summarise legit gambling in South Africa

South African online gamblers have traditionally been a sceptical bunch due to the fact that legislation around online gambling has traditionally been vague. This caused many illegal casino operators to take advantage of the loopholes in the law to offer online gambling to the relative naive gambler. These conditions are set to change for the better and in order for the player to first establish a level of trust and comfort with these casinos, it is recommended he first plays the casino's games for free. This will allow the player to investigate a set of criteria that makes a legit casino that commits to providing fair game play in South Africa.

Of the list of criteria to investigate, the casino's licensing information is the first place to start. By checking the license of the casino and that of the providers that supply casino games to the casino, the player will get an idea of where the casino is licensed to operate and which gaming authority is regulating the casino's operations. the range of games provided also gives and idea of the casino's commitment to provide players with online entertainment. The financial processes need to be evaluated and when the player is positive that the casino will treat him like a valued customer, then he can safely sign up and deposit at the legit casino.