ONLINE GAMBLING SOUTH AFRICA

Online gambling took a little longer to take off in South Africa than in some other parts of the world, but is now a thriving industry with a constantly growing number of fans.

One of the reason why it took so long to take off here may have something to do with traditional gambling's history in this country. There was a time when it was banned outright – this was way back in the day when Scope magazine had stars obscuring the interesting bits of their illustrations.

Gradually this changed, largely through the efforts of Sol Kersner and his Sun International group, which cut deals with most of our neighbouring countries and states, so that full blown casino resorts were within a few hours drive of most South Africans.

After 1994 with the major change in government came other major changes to our gambling legislation, and suddenly it was possible for clubs to obtain gambling licenses right in our cities. But alongside that came the gradual roll-out of Internet services.

You see, 1994 is the year online gambling began worldwide, but we lagged behind partly because of public awareness – gambling had for so long been prohibited – and partly because it would be years before broadband connections became commonplace in this country.



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But things have changed radically. Online gambling is now commonplace in this country, with many local casinos heading online, and several local-only poker rooms springing up on our networks.

In fact, so great is the current level of interest that many of the top international casinos have now begun offering deposit and withdrawal facilities in rands alongside their traditional dollar and euro facilities. This is perhaps the biggest indicator that South Africans are gambling online in significant numbers: the majors want a piece of the action.

Another factor that draws South African players onto the gaming tables of online casinos is the presence of networked games and their progressive jackpots that yield bigger wins than any traditional land-based casinos. 

You see, most online casinos are running software produced by only a handful of major developers. Now, most developers have affiliate networks that all online casinos running their software belong to. Certain branded games at these casinos all contribute to a single progressive jackpot, meaning that every time someone plays, a small slice of their wager goes towards a group pot. And with literally millions of people around the world playing the same game, that jackpot can climb astronomically high.

For example, a company called Microgaming produces a video slot game called Mega Moolah. Microgaming is one of the most reputable and popular developers out there, so a lot of online casinos run their software platform loaded with their games. With all of this exposure, Mega Moolah creates millionaires worldwide, every year. At the time of writing this article, the progressive jackpot attached to the game has just exceeded £6,000,000, and is still growing.

Convert that to rands in your head, and you suddenly see why online gambling is so popular in South Africa.