When most people think of South Africa, they think of it as “The Cradle of Humankind” and a home to the world’s oldest human fossils. Yet, the country can be also said to be the Cradle of Online Gambling,considering its vital role in the industry.
South Africa has always been closely intertwined with the casino business, ever since its casino expansion of the 1970s. And with the advance of gaming technology and the launch of both operators and review authorities like zebracasino, the countrykick-started a new era of casino gambling.
But how big was its role in the online casino industry?
A Tad of History
What’s strange about gambling in South Africa is that it has thrived despite being illegal. Ever since the 16th century, gambling was fiercely regulated. This trend continued until 1965, when nearly all forms of it were banned. Butno one could stop the country from gambling, as the future showed.
During the 1970s, an expansion of casinos happened in South Africa. These casinos were found in Bantu homelands, where mostly black populations lived. Since gambling was illegal, the locals couldn’t enjoy it and the operators were, at first, mostly visited by tourists.
Yet, considering the current situation, no one can say that local people weren’t given access to gambling. After all, these were not only game venues, but also places where other forms of entertainment were provided.
Fast forward to the 90s, South Africa became the home of many illegal casinos, some even having a single machine. This unrestricted growth lead the government to legalize gambling in 1994 and set up a system of licensed casinos two years later. Since online gaming hadn’t even started, the legalization only concerned land-based casinos.
At present, online gambling is still a gray area in South Africa. It all begun with the first modern act of 2004, which proclaimed online gambling illegal. The old act lead to the drafting of a new one in 2008 that was to regulate and legalize it. However, the law was shelved after confrontation from land-based casinos and governmental bodies.
South Africa and Online Gambling
As of now, online gambling is still illegal in the country. However, this doesn’t stop many casinos from specifically targeting South African players. This has virtually been the situation ever since the early days of online gambling.
When the first online casinos were launched in the 90s, South Africans were still not legally allowed to gamble. But just as this didn’t stop them during the 1970s, it also couldn’t stop them in the 90s.
In the early days of online gambling, South Africans were one of the largest gaming nations in the online community. This should come as no surprise, considering the legalized casino industry in the country has one of the healthiest revenue growths, despite the frail economy.
The present day situation is even more amplified, as the 2010 ban on online gambling triggered a new trend. There are currently casinos that accept the Rand as their only payment method and cater to South African players only. And as the government still doesn’t press on its ban, South African players can freely enjoy their online gambling.
Their Biggest Contribution
One of the biggest contributions to online gambling comes from a company which has it deep roots in South Africa – Microgaming.
Microgaming is today’s leading casino game developer and most remember it as being behind one of the first online casinos. However, many don’t know the true origin of the software pioneers, which begins in South Africa.
Microgaming was founded in 1994, in Durban, South Africa, by Martin Moshal. Moshal is a Durban businessman who’s allegedly behind several casino software developers. But it was Microgaming who had the biggest role, as it now powers hundreds of online casinos.
And even though it is now based in Isle of Man, reports show that a number of their games come from South African companies. When you add that to the already massive role of South African players in online gambling, you end up with a nation that almost entirely lifted the industry off the ground.