South African Online Gambling Habits

This post originated from our recent examination and research of the South African online gambling market, through a poll we ran over the span of 3-months. What we found was that despite the fact that South Africa offers a number of online bookmakers, whom either originated and operates purely within the South African borders, or are part of an international gambling network / chain, with impeccable records, such as the Sportingbet ZA or the BetVictor brand, the results were very much the same.

Regardless of the reputation, size, signup bonus and promotions etc, the ZA online gambling market is all very much hit and miss. It is possible to summarize South Africa’s online gambling market with one word, “Hyundai”, that is the car brand Hyundai. Often Beautiful to look at, often offering fantastic specifications but not many buyers.

That is pretty much the feeling we got from the online South African gambling market which was further emphasized by our research. Any punter in South Africa, looking to make an online punt have a number of world class South African bookmakers and sportsbooks to chose from, on par with the best online bookies in the world, not only in terms of signup bonuses, odds, promotions but also player safety in terms of auditing and regulations.

Researching The South African Online Gambling Market

What our research found was that online gambling in South Africa, specifically focusing on the online sports gambling market, was that South African users can be placed into 4 groups:

  1. A small amount of users are totally opposed to online gambling and see it as a highly frowned upon subject, these users are for a total ban of online sports betting in South Africa.
  2. The majority of users are aware of the various online bookmakers in South Africa, while they don’t have a problem with online sports betting in South Africa, they do not make use of online bookmakers, and ignore all promotions and offers meant to lure in new customers
  3. A small to medium amount of participants admitted to participate in online sports betting but have never made use, or signed up for an online bookmaker account. These users make use of brick and mortar land based bookmakers, such as hollywoodbets or Tab. When asked whether they would be willing to open an online bookmaker account to replace their land based gambling activities, 30-40% said they would consider it.
  4. A small amount of users admitted to owning and regularly using an online bookmaker in South Africa.

Having received answers from 200 participants in a poll we ran, combined with statistics from our affiliate programs and gambling posts on the sport freak as well as reaching out to other sport gambling sites operating in South Africa, the above 4 answers were received.

We then further pressed the participants and decoded the reasons behind the answers, here is what we found.

Users opposed to online gambling, Why?

Why are some users against online sports betting in South Africa? There is no simple answer for this, but generally it boils down to the fact that South Africans are quite a conservative bunch in general. Many mentioned it is against their values or religion while a few mentioned that they feel both brick and mortar casinos and online bookmakers exploit the poor and vulnerable.

Users aware of online bookmakers in SA, but not actively participating, Why?

The main reasons given to users being aware of online bookies but not participating, albeit having no problem with them, were either the same reasons as quoted above, or users saying that they have no interested in gambling related activities and simply enjoy watching sport as a hobby with no money at stake.

Regular sports bettors and gamblers offline, Why?

There were two primary reasons given in this category, all participants selected either one or both of the following reasons. Either they are afraid of fraudulent online activity and unwilling to give out their credit card numbers online. (This is a general trend among South African users which is holding back the rise of South African e-commerce as well.)

The second reason given was that users were unwilling to comply with local SA gambling legislation aka FICA (financial Intelligence Act) which requires all online South African bookmakers to obtain proof of address and identification before activating a user’s online gambling account. When pressed further on this, users said that it was a “slep” for them to submit these documents when they can wager at a local brick and mortar bookie without having to worry about submitting documents.

It is also worth noting that a small amount of participants mentioned that they don’t have a proper card which allows them to gamble online. This is certainly an area where South Africa is lagging behind other countries which not only affects the online gambling industry but also the SA e-commerce sector in general.

While both debit and credit cards can be used for online purchases / deposits in most countries, in South Africa your standard debit card is not compatible for online use meaning a punter would need a credit card if he or she wanted to gamble online in South Africa.

Owning and regularly using an online South African bookmaker account, Why?

Although in the minority of participants a surprisingly high, number of users did mention they own a SA sports betting account which they regularly fund and use. Reasons given were diverse but all users agreed that having an online sports betting account was much more convenient, offered better to much better odds compared to brick and mortar sportsbooks, while a few mentioned loyalty programs and regular promotions being a big positive for them.

When pressed about security, and if these regular online punters ever had problems with card fraud, or a bookmaker unwilling to payout, all participants said no.

The Sport Freak Stance on online betting / gambling

sa sports betting the sport freakIt is pretty obvious that we are for online gambling, in fact we, proudly, advertise and promote it. However there is a BIG BUT… While we advocate and promote responsible online sports betting, we do have our boundaries. We will never endorse, or advertise any bookmaker who does not have a trusted long standing reputation within the industry.

With the above being said we are against online casinos due to the fact that it is a computer program, computer programs can be manipulated, regardless of the numerous watchdogs and independent auditing firms regularly checking the source code of online casinos we do not feel comfortable with them, sports betting can not be manipulated in anyway, thus we will only promote sports betting.

Furthermore, and perhaps the biggest problem we have with online casinos is the fact that it is NOT a game of skill or statistics. Unlike sports betting where you can use various sources such as news, statistics etc to give you a possible edge, provided it has been applied correctly, online casinos are purely a game of “luck / chance” and that we do not like.

Sports betting is different, yes it is gambling, however, we see it both as a hobby and a game of skill, where if the punter knows what he is doing, he more often than not, has an equal to better chance of winning his wager against the bookmaker.

Security Concerns and online gambling.

Today’s technology has evolved enormously! True, 10-15 years back when the internet as a means of transaction – be it for online banking, shopping or gambling was still a relatively new and untested technology, numerous firms were hacked with credit card data and logon information obtained.

With that being said the industry has learned from these mistakes (this counts for most forms of e-Commerce websites, and the aviation industry aswell i.e. learning from your mistakes) Online gambling firms are now compelled to spend millions on security which they will happily do, since one breach of information can easily lead to the downfall of an online bookmakers existence.

To anyone not using the internet for online gambling because of security concerns over credit card or personal information, we challenge you to find when was the last time any major online bookmaker was hacked. The last case was over a decade ago!

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